Families will still be able to say goodbye to loved ones as extra precautions and technology is utilised at Peace Hospice Care, says CEO Declan Carroll.

The hospice underwent a series of changes since the coronavirus lockdown had started, finding a different approach to share quality end-of-life care in such an unusual time.

Just last month, the Watford Observer spoke to Mr Carroll, who said that despite shutting their eleven charity shops and receiving lowered income, the hospice still aims to maintain care for families.

For the latest coronavirus updates for Hertfordshire, follow our live blog

Now the hospice has adapted technology to continue their services.

Mr Carroll explained: “We’re using technology in a different way, by supporting patients through telephone conversations and holding consultations through video chats, giving the assurance that we’re still here.

“Obviously we are still going to patients when they need personal and physical care, but we’ve moved away from the traditional way of doing things.”

Despite admitting it’s a “learning curve” in implementing technology to end-of-life support and care, Mr Carroll believes that these changes could continue to benefit the hospice even once the coronavirus pandemic is over.

But the CEO believes that hospices will play an important part during the pandemic with virtual consultations to lessen the pressure on the NHS.

The inpatient unit at the hospice is also changing its restrictions for families visiting loved ones at the end-of-life stage.

“It has to be planned, managed and safe, changing the restrictions was a tough one but we’re doing it (supporting closure before a death) because it’s what we do.

“We’re always following government guidelines, and absolutely when we feel there is a Covid-19 infection, we will supervise visits to patients making sure they are wearing the right protective equipment and complying with social distancing.

“I do feel for families and loved ones at the end of life stage, who are not able to communicate – tough or hug – someone like they used to.

Watford Observer:

Some of the donations sent to the hospice

“Our aim is to make sure there is enough PPE to keep our staff and patients safe, it is a hard balance.”

The hospice has received iPad donations from department store John Lewis so that families can also communicate through video calls and lessen the need to visit in person.

Community spirit has been apparent during the coronavirus crisis as hundreds of protective equipment, food and generous donations have made its way to Peace Hospice Care during the outbreak.

He said: “The message that we want to get across is that we’re still here and we are continuing to refer people and continuing to care for people.”

Watford Observer:

Peace Hospice Care is calling for more donations from the public so that they can continue their services as best as possible.

The charity estimates that it stands to lose up to £2.4 million against its budgeted income for 2020/21.

But despite the loss, Mr Carroll believes thanks to additional government funding and clinical commissioning group grants, the group stands financially strong.

He said: “We are looking at ways in which we can recover once Covid-19 is a distant memory. Once shops are opened and the community is looking for donations.

“At the moment, we’re struggling with the timeline of when things go back to normal and getting an idea of what ‘normal’ looks like.”

Mr Carroll said: “We know that this is such a difficult time for everyone, but we are asking for help. Whilst we do have robust reserves to mitigate events such as these, we are doing everything possible to minimise our reliance on these reserves given the uncertain future we face.

So, we’re asking the local community to carry on supporting us in any way they can:

• with donations of Personal Protective Equipment – in particular, type IIR fluid resistant surgical masks

• making monetary donations via our website: www.peacehospicecare.org.uk/donate

• keeping hold of unwanted items that they might want to donate, until our charity shops are open again and can receive them

• sharing our news on social media so that more people are aware of our free services and how, and who, we help.”

Anyone requiring advice or care from Peace Hospice Care is asked to call 01923 330 330, so that any further consultations or help can be made.