Key workers at one of Cornwall’s best loved healthcare charities are offering services in new ways to support patients, carers and the bereaved. With their Community based services currently closed due to the pandemic, new self-help advice is being produced online and a special telephone number has been set up to signpost people who are bereaved.

It’s business as usual at Cornwall Hospice Care’s two hospices at Mount Edgcumbe in St Austell and St Julia’s in Hayle where patients with terminal illnesses are still being admitted 24/7. However, many of the community based activities, such as the charity’s Neighbourhood Hubs and Friendship Cafes had to close when the government lock down came in to force. Gina Starnes (pictured left)  is the Clinical Director; “It left us worried about those patients we support in the community and those who care for them. In times of crisis you adapt and that’s what we’ve done and collaborating with others, we’ve introduced some new services that will hopefully continue in to the future, a legacy of this terrible time perhaps.”

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“We’re now offering phone support, information and signposting for patients, carers and relatives dealing with terminal illnesses and to those who are isolated and vulnerable in the community”, says Lollie Brewer (pictured right), Cornwall Hospice Care’s Community Engagement Nurse. “We’re working with the Cornwall Bereavement Network (https://www.cornwallbereavementnetwork.org) to support those who’ve been bereaved or are struggling with grief.

Cornwall Bereavement Network is made up of over 85 organisations who’re willing to help and support those who need it. Our Community Services telephone number 01726 829874 is being used to triage calls and to signpost the caller to the most appropriate support service. This number is available 7 days a week from 10am to 6pm and operated by staff and Community Service volunteers.

Social media is also helping the charity to keep in touch with patients, their families and their carers. Cornwall Hospice Care have set up a Virtual Community Friendship Café to replace the actual cafés that are currently closed. Here’s Lollie again; “It’s a digital café where anyone can visit, especially if they’re struggling with social isolation, loss and long term illnesses and palliative conditions. We can offer practical solutions, signposting and resilience ideas. In the long term, this will continue to run after this pandemic, even when we can safely roll out the Lemon Drizzle and cups of tea again!” https://www.facebook.com/groups/chcvirtualcommunitycafe

Cornwall Hospice Care staff have also created a self-help page on their website, providing information, audio relaxation sessions and calming videos. www.cornwallhospicecare.co.uk/our-care/therapy-team/self-help-resources/

Working together

Gina Starnes says good can come out of the pandemic, particularly when it comes to bringing care providers together; “In a crisis people tend to pull together and it’s heartening to see so many organisations and charities working to find solutions when it comes to supporting those who rely on us. I hope these collaborations will continue once this current crisis is over. We have all learnt a lot and that can only be good for our Cornish communities.”

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