There is nothing like a global pandemic to challenge what was once your usual working practice.  Gone were the days of regular house visits and facilitating a variety of bereavement groups and we were faced with a largely unknown future.

Contact never stopped, but we had to be versatile, and as usual, come up with a solution focused approach to our service.  Following the initial uncertainty that came with lockdown, we responded.

Telephone contact increased tremendously and people were offered other means of communicating virtually.  Our Welfare Rights Advisors continued doorstep appointments, particularly when documentation had to be exchanged.

With PPE required for indoor face-to-face contact, and the huge disadvantage of not being able to notice facial expressions and cues so readily, we started offering people ‘garden appointments’ to improve the communicative exchange.  This occurred in peoples own gardens, when confidentiality could be maintained, or here in our little Hospice garden, outside our Day Centre.  The garden even featured on ITV Wales news when discussing bereavement through Covid_19.

Our garden has been used to great effect.  No PPE needed due to being able to maintain social distancing, and a fantastic opportunity to meet with patients, families and bereaved relatives in a place away from home.  Challenges have included wasps, cars with loud stereos, car park mobile phone conversations and sudden storms to name a few.  The weather has been kind to us too predominantly, but we are looking to invest in weatherproofing our little outdoor pad to utilise it through the months ahead.

We have been able to conduct close to 100 appointments so far, primarily for bereaved relatives and family members of Hospice patients.  We have also been able to provide some supervision too for our partnership agencies.  If we can guarantee some shelter and warmth through the winter, we plan to continue supporting people in the great outdoors.

Jonathan Pearce
Family Support Team Lead