As Covid-19 forced the country in to successive lock downs, Cornwall’s adult hospices remained open and admitting patients 24/7. Now Cornwall Hospice Care is releasing details of the care provided through the financial year 2020 to 2021 to mark International Nurses Day on Wednesday 12th May.

Despite the pressures caused by the pandemic, the Cornish healthcare charity admitted 404 patients at its two hospices, Mount Edgcumbe in St Austell and St Julia’s in Hayle. The majority were referred, by medical professionals, from their own home or from Cornwall’s acute hospital. Around 40% were able to return to their home or care home after receiving palliative care. The charity also supported people with Lymphoedema* providing 748 hours of care to patients in 732 face to face appointments and 400 telephone appointments (a service introduced because of the pandemic). The advice line run by Cornwall Hospice Care in support of other healthcare professionals received and dealt with 1,479 calls.

Cornwall Hospice Care offers patient and family support services such as bereavement counselling. In the 20/21 financial year this included 1,867 appointments during which 1,312 hours of support was given.

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Pictured above, the front-line care team at St Julia’s Hospice in Hayle.

Gina Starnes is Cornwall Hospice Care’s Director of Clinical Services; “The last year has been an extremely tough one for all health care providers and I salute our charity’s front-line staff who’ve continued to care for our terminally ill patients during the pandemic. The doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, chefs, housekeepers, maintenance team and administrators have shown extraordinary commitment and as a result we’ve continued to be there for those who need us most.

I’d also like to pay tribute to our community services team who’ve adapted to new ways of working. Our Listening Ear service set up to support bereaved people, those needing mental and physical help or facing isolation and financial worries during the pandemic, received 222 calls, with some lasting up to an hour. Our virtual Friendship Café now has 102 members and more than 400 delegates have attended online seminars that the team have hosted. I’m humbled by this dedication in the face of such adversity.”

Precious end-of-life care

The pandemic massively impacted the charity’s Neighbourhood Hubs project that offers advice and support to people in their local community. Consultations had to move from venues where people could be seen face-to-face to telephone calls, but still 161 patients and 24 carers were supported with relevant treatments being provided by Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists.

Paul Brinsley is the Chief Executive of Cornwall Hospice Care; “We responded to the pandemic very quickly and put measures in place to protect our front-line services and it’s a credit to our staff that our hospices remained open throughout the last year. As a result, we were able to support our NHS colleagues by continuing to care for terminally ill people while they faced the direct challenges of Covid-19. I also pay tribute to those staff who were furloughed and those who have worked from home for more than a year now.”

“We were fortunate to receive government assistance and that helped fund our care during the time when all fundraising activities had to stop and our shops had to close. Now we have to work on our recovery plan and on building our methods of income generation so we can continue providing our precious end-of-life care free of charge to the Cornish community.”

*Lymphoedema is a chronic, long-term condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissues. It can affect any part of the body, but usually develops in the arms or legs.  Symptoms can include an aching, heavy feeling in the affected limb. Lymphoedema is caused by a problem with the lymphatic system. This is a network of vessels and glands distributed throughout the body.

The picture below is of  Senior Staff Nurse Claire Collings from Mount Edgcumbe Hospice in St Austell.

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