Harrogate hospice charity introduces new Family Liaison Officers to help families during Covid-19 and beyond.

Following the lockdown period, which came into place in March, and alongside the restrictions we placed on visiting at our Crimple House Hospice, we created some new Family Liaison Officer roles.

The roles work to create a ‘new normal’ which enables relatives to remain close to the day-to-day care of their loved ones, even when they have been unable to visit them.

Feedback from our inpatients and their families has been overwhelmingly positive, around the role, which forms a vital communication chain, seven-days a week.

Heather Hart, one of our family liaison officers, said:

“Our morning starts with a phone call to every family, and we hear this is a real comfort to relatives.

“The call offers a regular chance to hear about how the night has been, and small things like what their loved one had for breakfast or that they have read their favourite newspaper.

“Everyone has different questions that are important to them. Some calls are short, others longer, to ensure every family receives the support they need.

“We can also arrange appointments and referrals to our medical team and the extended multi-disciplinary team, such as Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Chaplain, Counsellor, Social Worker, and Dietitian.

“Now we are able to co-ordinate a small number of pre-booked visiting times, but when we couldn’t allow any visiting it was very tough for families; being separated. Extended families are still finding it hard.

“We do things like print out photos of family members, laminate the image and make sure that our patient can have it close by – there are lots of little ways we can help.

“We can continue to offer support after a patient has died too. As we know the individuals, we are often able to talk more freely about their needs. Sometimes they don’t get a lot of chance to talk to someone outside of their family about how they feel, and that can be really helpful. We refer many families to our Just ‘B’ service, which offers that longer term help with expressing and managing their grief, which can be so important.

“It’s great to have made long lasting improvements and to hear such positive feedback from patients and families.”

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