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April-May 2021 | Features

Help for hospices

Help for hospices

Rotary clubs across three counties have been working together to support hospices which have been badly affected by the pandemic.

The impact of COVID-19 has hit many charities hard.

Recent research has revealed that eight out of 10 charities believe the coronavirus pandemic will negatively impact on their ability to deliver on planned objectives over the next year.

The report, ‘Respond, Recover, Reset: The Voluntary Sector and COVID-19’ reveals, unsurprisingly, how the devastating financial impact of the lockdowns has left nearly 40% of charities and community groups in a worsening financial situation.

Worryingly, one in ten charities believe they may be forced to close within a year, according to the report, which has been authored by Nottingham Trent University, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Sheffield Hallam University.

Hospices, providing valuable end of life care, have been at the sharp end of those funding challenges. Nationally, there are 155 adult hospices in the UK.

Recent research has revealed that eight out of 10 charities believe the coronavirus pandemic will negatively impact on their ability to deliver on planned objectives over the next year.”

In Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, Rotarians have responded to the challenges faced by hospices and the unprecedented pressures being put on their resources.

Rotarians across the three counties, as part of District 1260, have managed to provide valuable funding to support the work of hospices in the region.

Luton North Rotarian, Paul Denton, was the driving force behind sourcing £64,000 of funding to eight hospices in the region.

Paul is Chairman of the District 1260 Global Grants Committee that led the application.

He said: “We found many district clubs were already supporting the hospices, but 29 clubs were happy to support a Rotary Foundation Global Grant with 50% added to their money.”

A total of £43,000 was raised with a Rotary Foundation COVID-19 Global Grant. This was added to cash from the District 1260 District Designated Fund, 29 clubs in the district, The Rotary Foundation, and Bloomington Rotary in Minneapolis, USA, who acted as an international partner for the grant.

Luton North Rotary returned the favour by being the international partner for a COVID-19 Global Grant sourced by the Minneapolis club to fill the shelves of superstores in Minnesota.

Paul Denton added: “The Rotary Foundation advised that the application should be written as eight mini Global Grants under the umbrella of one grant number, with full use made of the concessions allowed under the new COVID-19 rule.

In Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, Rotarians have responded to the challenges faced by hospices and the unprecedented pressures being put on their resources.

“Each hospice provided a list of the items relevant to their particular needs.

“These included, web cams, syringe drivers, laptops for outreach work, special mattresses, PPE, online virtual therapy headsets, and a locked drugs dispenser.”

The money paid for 40 different items for the hospices, which have been visited by members of the sponsoring Rotary clubs, District Governors Mary Whitehead (2019-2020) and Vijay Patel (2020-2021), along with Leslie Robertson, the District 1260 Secretary, and Paul Denton.

The hospices have been extremely grateful for the Rotary lifeline.

Richard Harbon from Garden House Hospice Care Letchworth Garden City, explained how they have been hit hard by lockdown.

“As soon as the restrictions of COVID-19 kicked in, all of our shops closed and virtually all our events were either cancelled or postponed,” he said.

The hospices have been extremely grateful for the Rotary lifeline.”

“This meant an expected shortfall at the end of the year of £1.3 million.

“Thankfully, the Government is now providing support of £700,000 meaning an expected shortfall of £600,000.

“Clearly the longer restrictions are in place, the more money we will lose.

“It may, as described by one senior nurse, be like starting again. We are so grateful for Rotary’s offer to help.”

A spokeswoman for the Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted, said: “The generosity of Rotary could not have come at a more significant time, as we faced the biggest drop in income in our 40-year history when the demand for our services was only increasing.

“With the grant, we purchased new laptops, headsets and software which allowed our clinicians and patients to stay connected and offer the same outstanding care virtually. This ensured we could still be that reassuring voice at the end of the phone to anyone who needed us.”

It was a similar message from the Peace Hospice in Watford, who said: “Your support has helped us greatly to continue providing the very special care that our patients and families need.

The generosity of Rotary could not have come at a more significant time, as we faced the biggest drop in income in our 40-year history when the demand for our services was only increasing.”

“We would not be able to help those who need us without charitable supporters such as The Rotary Global Grants Committee who gave a grant of £4,695 for two syringe drivers, lock boxes, an ECG machine and accessories for the Inpatient Unit. Thank you all.”

In Welwyn, where the Isabel Hospice received £6,261, the funding has been used to purchase vital equipment for the unit including syringe drivers for dispensing medication, wander mats for patient beds which alert clinical teams of movement or changes, and a cooling blanket to be used when someone passes away.

Rotarian Paul Denton said that the project had enabled more Rotarians to see The Rotary Foundation at work and how the money is spent.

“The project has had full Rotary involvement and full support from the hospices,” he said. “It is a great example of The Rotary Foundation working for and with communities, showing how Rotary Opens Opportunities.”

We would not be able to help those who need us without charitable supporters such as The Rotary Global Grants Committee who gave a grant of £4,695 for two syringe drivers, lock boxes, an ECG machine and accessories for the Inpatient Unit. Thank you all.”

Luton North Rotary has had a long-standing connection with Keech Hospice since it opened in 1991. It cares for both adults and children and received £10,000 from the Global Grant.

Nikki Samsa explained how the past year has been extremely challenging for the hospice. The number of patients receiving care is growing daily. This includes patients who are new to the hospice who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Our adult in-patient unit is running at full capacity with over 50% of the patients being admitted with a positive COVID-19 test result.

“The need for us has never been greater,” she said. “Our patients are some of the most vulnerable and highly susceptible to the virus.

“It presents a real threat to their lives and despite their own fears, our dedicated care teams have been continuing to care for children and adults at the end of their lives, both at the hospice itself and out in our communities.”

And the impact of COVID-19 is simply chilling and heart-wrenching.

Nikki added: “Just the other day our Clinical Director sat on the patio with a lady in her eighties while her husband, who had tested positive for COVID-19 before he was admitted to Keech Hospice, passed away inside.

“Our nurses offered to dress her in full PPE so she could enter the room to see her husband. However, as she was clinically vulnerable, the family decided the risk was too high and remained outside.

“She was wrapped in a blanket with a cup of tea and hot water bottle to keep warm. They were both given a crochet heart which they could squeeze, the lady was able to take her heart home and the second heart remained with her husband, and went with him when he was moved to the undertakers.

“The crochet heart enabled them to have a psychological connection, something to touch and squeeze when they are unable to be at the bedside holding hands and hopefully provided them some comfort at such a difficult time.

“This is an extremely difficult time for our care teams both emotionally and physically.

“Thank you from Keech Hospice Care. We simply would not be able to provide this level of care and support to our patients and their families without the support of organisations such Rotary.

“We can’t thank you enough.”

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