East Lancashire Hospice

Fiona, Carole and Jane talk about our CNS team in the community

During the Covid-19 situation that we have all found ourselves in at the moment, we want our community to know that our Hospice is still very much ‘Open for Business’

Our ‘Business’ is to make sure we are there to provide care to people within our community who have an illness that cannot be cured, to provide support to the families, and more than ever before to be a listening ear when needed.

We want our patients to have choices, to be cared for in the hospice or to replicate that same care in the patient’s own home, where they feel comfortable and in their own surroundings should they wish.

To make this happen, we have a Community Team that include Community Nurse Specialists (CNS) and Health Care Assistants (HCA’s) The team work alongside District Nurses and GPs to support people facing a wide range of challenges because of their illness in our community of Blackburn with Darwen

I spoke to Fiona, Carole and Jane, three members of the team seven who told me what their roles provided, why they do it and how it has changed in these current times.

Fiona Macdonald previously worked as an Uro-oncology specialist nurse. After making a move to Italy and taking time to reflect on what she wanted her career to be in the future, Fiona came to the conclusion she had always wanted to work in Palliative Care, so on returning to the UK, began her new role as a Clinical lead within the hospice community team.

Fiona said, “We are finding that at the moment patients are choosing to stay at home more than ever before, quite often afraid of stepping out of their front door where they feel safe and going into any clinical arena.  Many have had their treatment put on hold so psychologically this has had an impact on their wellbeing. They can sometimes be scared and have increased anxiety, which increases any symptoms they may be experiencing. We are there to support those symptoms, whether physical, emotional or psychological.”

Currently the team have moved away from the hospice building and working alongside the District Nurses from bases at Barbara Castle Way, Shadsworth and Darwen Health Centres to support and provide “mutual aid” across organisations.

Hospice Clinical Nurse Specialist Carole Ireson has been part of the team for 5 years. Previously working in Intensive Care and then out in the community as a District Nurse Carole took the step into Palliative Care to help people to make the most of life, quite fitting as this is now the hospice vision statement.

Carole said, “Many people think we only provide care for people with cancer, we are there for any condition that cannot be cured. It’s about building trust, forming relationships. We can’t provide a cure but as previously mentioned, we can help to make the most of life.

The community team work very closely with the clinical staff who are based at the hospice. Quite often a person’s care can include many aspects of the hospice service for example, a patient may come to the hospice as a day patient and enjoy arts, crafts, baking etc., access counselling support if needed, enjoy a series of complimentary therapy sessions, become an Inpatient for symptom management and then go back home to live alongside their family whilst having the support of our CNS or Hospice at Home Team.

Associate Hospice Clinical Nurse Specialist Jane O’Toole said part of the role of the CNS is to also take into account the family’s needs. Jane said, “We often have to recommend adaptions in the home and although the patient is at the centre of everything we do, we also have to be aware that this is a home for the whole family. We can also signpost to other organisations that can provide support as well as being on the other end of the phone to give re assurance between visits.” Jane also worked as a District Nurse and has been with the hospice for almost a year. She said, “I have often heard people say that they didn’t think that the care they received at home would be the same as the hospice, but have changed their mind once they have experienced it.

I know from conversations I have had with other clinical staff who don’t work in the hospice environment, they feel this would be a very difficult job, but I see it as very rewarding. We are in constant contact with the hospice every day and peer support makes a huge difference, we are there for each other”

When asked how Covid-19 has changed the way the team work, Fiona said, “We are still doing what we always do, just from a different base at the moment, but we would like to re-assure everyone that we have the correct PPE and all procedures are being followed for the safety of the patients, the families and our staff.

Last year the hospice changed its Vision Statement to ‘Making the Most of Life’ and from the feedback from Fiona, Carol and Jane this certainly gives the rubber stamp to what we want to achieve.

For more information about community services, please click here

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