St Clare Hospice steps up support for Care Homes across West Essex amidst COVID-19 outbreak

Charity / Fri 1st May 2020 at 08:41am

Hospice steps up support for Care Homes across West Essex amidst COVID-19 outbreak

ST Clare Hospice has stepped up its support for residential and nursing care homes across West Essex amidst the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Hastingwood-based charity has developed a new service offering peer support to care home staff, as well as widening the reach of their Compassionate Neighbours volunteering project to offer a phone call befriending service to isolated residents.

The support is being offered to the more than 40 residential and nursing care homes across West Essex which are within the catchment area of the Hospice. The West Essex CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) which oversees the delivery of NHS services in the area, have worked with St Clare to develop the model and are supportive of the project.

St Clare Hospice’s Compassionate Neighbours Project Manager, Stacey Towler, is co-ordinating the extra support for care homes and explains: “After seeing coverage in the national news about the pressures residential and nursing homes are facing during the coronavirus pandemic, we felt it was important to reach out to our neighbouring care homes to see what support we might be able to offer them.

“We already work in partnership with our local care homes, but we were determined to step-up our offer of support at this time of urgent need. After speaking to care home managers, it became apparent that they would benefit from peer support for their staff, as well as phone call befriending for their residents who are feeling isolated during lockdown.”

Outlining the support for residents, Stacey Towler said: “Our Compassionate Neighbours project has been running for over two years now, supporting people who are socially isolated and living with a life-limiting illness or frailty, by matching them with a volunteer who offers companionship, emotional support, and a listening ear. The Compassionate Neighbours have had to cease their face-to-face visits due to coronavirus, but are continuing their friendships with their matched community member via telephone or video calls. A number of our volunteers are already matched with people who live in a residential care home, but with the UK under lockdown, many more care home residents are now experiencing social isolation.”

“Our Compassionate Neighbours are a very special group of people, and with their skills and training in befriending, they are perfectly placed to respond to this growing need in care homes.

“In order to support more care home residents during the coronavirus pandemic, we have established a buddying system between our Compassionate Neighbours volunteers and our local care homes. Each Compassionate Neighbour will be allocated one care home and will make several phone calls a week to different residents who have said they are feeling lonely or isolated and would like to have a friendly call and a listening ear at this time. We hope that these relationships which are necessarily established over the telephone for now, will be able to develop into longer term face-to-face relationships once the coronavirus pandemic is over.”

St Clare Hospice has also brought together a multi-disciplinary team of professionals – which includes social workers, occupational therapists and a chaplain – to offer emotional and peer support, and encourage resilience. The hospice charity has developed a range of sessions, which take place virtually via a video conferencing platform, to support care home staff. The sessions are designed to offer a safe space for workers to talk about how they are being affected by Covid-19; help them to manage anxiety and promote self-care; and allow them to meet up ‘virtually’ with other care home workers that may have similar experiences.

The project aims to deliver 30 sessions over the next 10 weeks, with access for up to 60 care home workers per week. This means that up to 600 care home staff could benefit from the project in the coming weeks.

The project co-ordinator, St Clare Hospice’s Compassionate Neighbours Manager Stacey Towler, explains: “It was highlighted to us that there was a need in our local residential and nursing care homes to access professional peer support for their staff. We have developed a timetable of bitesize sessions on relevant topics, which will be delivered by a multi-disciplinary team of St Clare Hospice professionals via a video or telephone conference. The topics covered include: managing anxiety, self-care and wellbeing, and balancing their roles in both work and home life.”

Support for care home staff is being delivered free of charge to residential and nursing care homes across West Essex, and hopes to expand into East Hertfordshire in the coming weeks. If you work in a care home, or want to find out more about the service, please get in touch with Stacey Towler on [email protected] or call 07986 971860.

St Clare Hospice is currently recruiting for more Compassionate Neighbours and is offering remote, digital training for new volunteers. For more information visit stclarehospice.org.uk/compassionate-neighbours

For more information on St Clare Hospice’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, read their full statement at stclarehospice.org.uk/coronavirus

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