For our Hospice the impact of this pandemic isn’t over yet. Over the last year, many local people living with terminal conditions have not been receiving the care they should have been. The COVID-19 emergency forced the cancellation of so many tests and procedures – and many patients chose to stay away from hospital, fearing infection.
As a result, a large number of people are much sicker now. Sadly, many will come to us with more complex needs, requiring support or end of life care much sooner.
These patients will turn to St Gemma’s this year for care. And even though we’ve probably had the hardest year of our working lives, we must be here for those who need us now and into the future. But we can only do that if we can continue to fund the vital care they desperately need.
“St Gemma’s held our hands while they cared for my wife Francine and I during her final days. Now they need us to hold theirs as they work to come out of this crisis.”
“Last year, just after the pandemic had started, my wife’s cancer returned, worse than ever and Francine began to really go downhill. We became isolated in our apartment and for months it was just Francine and me. I was happy to care for her, of course; but it was so incredibly hard. She needed constant attention and I had to help her do everything. And because of COVID there was no support for us –no-one to come and help.
“In desperation, we reached out for St Gemma’s. They called us back the very next morning; they had found a bed for Francine. We were both so utterly relieved.
“When we arrived in the ambulance the nurses (the angels!) welcomed us both and showed Francine to her room. All the stress and worry lifted from me, completely. It was a revelation. I stopped being her carer and became her husband once more.”
For the days we were at St Gemma’s they looked after us both; and that amazed me. They gave Francine the most incredible care, but they also took the time to see me as a person, to support the journey I was going on.”
Although lockdown restrictions have begun to ease across the country, we know the Hospice still faces some very tough weeks and months ahead. That’s why today we are asking, on behalf of the whole St Gemma’s care team, for your help to support us through the next phase of the COVID pandemic.
“The hardest thing for so many of us has been having to restrict visiting to just one or two loved ones at any time for each patient. We know this needed to happen to reduce the spread of the virus – but it’s made it incredibly difficult for some families during those precious final days and hours. We’ve had to care for people wearing full PPE, including mask and goggles, so patients have been unable to fully see our faces.
“We’re just desperate for the day when we can shed all the protective gear, show patients our smiles once more; and to give them a proper hug when they need one.”
-Dr Hannah Zacharias, Consultant in Palliative Medicine
St Gemma’s care teams need your help during this latest, toughest, phase of the pandemic. Please, support our team today.
“The last 14 months have been such hard work and there have been some very low moments. But we still come back day after day; because what drives us is knowing that we only have one chance to get a patient’s care right in their final days. It has been a complete privilege to have cared for people in our community through these incredibly challenging times. They deserve the very best care we can give them.”
-Dr Karen Neoh, Consultant in Palliative Medicine