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Coronavirus crisis: ‘Heartbreaking’ changes at Severn Hospices to save lives

By Dominic Robertson | Telford | Coronavirus | Published:

Coronavirus precautions are forcing hospice staff in Shropshire to make "heartbreaking" decisions over changes to the way they help families.

Vital service - Severn Hospice in Telford

Becky Richardson, care director at Severn Hospice said they were taking no chances over coronavirus, and have had to bring in strict policy changes in an effort to reduce the risk to staff and patients.

The charity, which has two inpatient sites at Apley in Telford and Bicton in Shrewsbury, has also taken the decision to close all of its charity shops, which number more than 20 and are a major source of funding.

The situation has also led to all of its volunteers being asked to stop work, with the majority in the highest risk category of those aged 70 or over.

Ms Richardson said they have also been forced to stop visits from pets, and keep visits to close family members.

Coronavirus:

She said: "Visiting is very difficult. We do not want to stop families coming in because this is the worst time in their lives, so we are saying close family only, do not come if you do not feel well, and re-iterating the importance of hand hygiene. "

Ms Richardson said that there had been hugely testing issues for the hospice to overcome as a result of the outbreak.

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She said: "We have had quite a change because obviously we have a lot of volunteers working for us and we have made a decision to stand the volunteers down, just because on the whole they fall in to the vulnerable age bracket, but also for their health and wellbeing and that of patients. We have had to try and limit the number of people coming into the building."

Huge

Volunteers have been absolutely key to the running of the charity, with the decision to stand them down not taken lightly.

Ms Richardson said: "That has been huge for us because volunteers do everything from the garden, working in shops, doing the administration, so it is huge for us."

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The unprecedented situation has been particularly hard on staff who have been dedicated to supporting families in the best way possible - some who have worked for the charity for decades.

Ms Richardson described it as "heartbreaking" for some of the staff, saying: "We are trying to be sensible about it but trying to have compassion for the families and giving patients the support and dignity they need."

She added: "We want to give people their last wishes and sometimes we are now feeling we are not able to achieve some of those which is really sad."

There are 23 beds across both of the inpatient sites but Ms Richardson said there is a particular focus on the hospice at home service, which has been running for the last two years.

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