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St Clare HospiceCaring through covid: local palliative care doctor opens up for Hospice Care Week

Charity / Sat 10th Oct 2020 at 07:17am

Caring through covid: local palliative care doctor opens up for Hospice Care Week

South Woodford resident, Dr Jonathan Riordan, 33, shares his experiences of delivering palliative care during a pandemic as part of Hospice Care Week.

Palliative care consultant Dr Jonathan Riordan, from West Essex and East Hertfordshire charity St Clare Hospice, has spoken and written about the impact the pandemic has had on delivering end of life care in Essex in a blog and vlog that has been releases as part of Hospice Care Week (5-11th October) – the annual campaign to raise awareness of Hospice Care.

Dr Riordan is in his first year of working at the Hospice, in his first consultant role, and what a year it’s been! At the peak of the pandemic, Jonathan worked 24 days out of 26 days. “That was really tiring and felt relentless,” explained Jonathan. “I’d never experienced anything remotely like this in my working career before. The pandemic has definitely taken its toll at times.   

Dr Riordan explained what a challenge it had been delivering outstanding palliative care whilst wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), “PPE has been a much bigger barrier than I thought it would be; I didn’t realise how much a smile helps to put patients at ease.

“All in all, it’s been a tough few months and a steep learning curve for my first nine months as a consultant but I’ve taken a lot of positives away from the situation as well. One of the highlights for me has been that I spent so much time on the Inpatient Unit that I got to see other people’s roles more closely. It gave me a chance to witness up close some of the care that our patients were getting – for example we had a lot of young patients at the time, with big families in some cases, and looking after those patients, explaining to people that we have to limit visitation, was so tough. 

“Seeing how skilful and compassionate the nurses can be in such sad and difficult circumstances was a real privilege and it made me very proud to be working here. We were all tired, stressed, anxious and frustrated – but seeing how people just got their heads down and delivered outstanding care was a real privilege to see.”

And now that the case numbers are rising again, Dr Riordan is confident that we will all cope with difficulties that lie ahead. “Throughout the pandemic, people have shown amazing acts of sacrifice and selflessness and I’m sure that will continue. It’s incredibly important to show how resilient as a community we can be, and continue to take heart in being kind to each other. 

“At St Clare Hospice, we know that it’s not going to be an easy few months coming up. But one of the advantages of staying open as an Inpatient Unit is that we now have this wealth of experience going forward. So for us, the second time around, the difference is that we have things in place already, rather than creating new ways of working and guidance for staff, whilst delivering patient care.  

“Our community can take heart in knowing what amazing services and support they have at St Clare and we take heart in knowing that there are some amazing people out there in the community supporting us.”

To read Dr Riordan’s full blog, visit:  https://stclarehospice.org.uk/news_posts/caring-through-covid-palliative-care-consultant/

To watch Jonathan’s video log: https://youtu.be/vG1oWgppT3U

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