Our HOME team share their experiences during lockdown
We are currently providing care, comfort and support to more than 40 people each week, plus their families, in the place that they call home.
Here, we meet two heath care assistants, Lorraine Lumley and Julia Harrison, working for our HOME service, to hear what it is like caring for people living with a terminal illness during lockdown.
“Because of the restrictions on visiting people in hospices and hospitals, many more people are choosing to die at home; but as a carer at the moment, it’s actually a very hard thing to do when your wider friends, family and community can’t help you out”, says Julia.
“I put my mask, gloves, goggles, apron and gloves before I enter a house; This is so alien to the end of life care we are used to giving, but we are still managing to create those important relationships and offer comfort.
“The social distancing measures while necessary, sometimes feel really difficult; it has been heart-breaking to see some relatives waving final goodbyes through windows. It’s hard. But we have a fantastic team and we are all so supportive of each other and feel well supported by the organisation.
“One positive out of all this is that because the roads have been quieter, we are able to spend that little bit extra time in peoples’ homes. Often families are isolated, so it is really important that we can support them too.”
Lorraine said: “We’re doing the job to the highest standard of care at all times, but we’re used to being pretty tactile and now when someone is crying we can’t offer a hug or put a reassuring hand on theirs – so instead we reassure with words.
“Having to wear PPE can be unsettling for patients and carers. Not seeing our faces also impacts on people who may have hearing difficulties, and at the end of life it’s really important to be able to communicate with everyone with total clarity, so people understand what is going on. We talk to patients about what is happening and why, even if they are seemingly unconscious.
“Looking after a family member at the end of their life is the most difficult of times for people in any situation; and suddenly they don’t have the usual wider network of support there to give them a break. So this is where we come in, and can help.
“It’s all a new way of working which we are getting used to.”