Here for people, even when alone “We may literally be the only contact that someone is having,” reflects Bev Behmer who heads up Mountbatten’s Community Services. Bev oversees the whole of the community team, which is now split into two; one team responds to calls, visit patients’ own homes and care homes, whilst the other remains at the hospice site coordinating visits and keeping a vital connection over the phone. Every day, Bev and her team contact patients and families. Among them, a person whose partner had been supported by the community team and died with COVID-19. “Our focus was to follow up and support their partner by contacting them every day,” she said. “You hear the natural distress, they’re exhausted from looking after them, and then they were feeling unwell themselves, thinking ‘I’ve got covid, I might die’. But each day, when you telephoned them, they were getting stronger, physically and emotionally. It’s turned around and they have done incredibly well, and they will now be followed up with bereavement support from Mountbatten in the normal way. They’ve gone through that journey and I think it’s really rewarding to see.” When the coronavirus forced the temporary closure of the John Cheverton Centre with patients and other users either being visited at home or contacted regularly by phone, a new 24/7 Keep Connected helpline was set up to ensure patients, carers and their families had quick and constant access to Mountbatten’s staff and volunteers. “One particular lady that rang in was on her own, she had been married for a long time, she has got no family, she is literally on her own. We say we are here 24/7, please use us. But I’m sure some people think ‘oh I don’t want to be bothering them’ so it’s great that they do! To speak to someone in the middle of the night must be a great support.” Just being able to reassure and listen is of huge value to people, according to Bev. “I spoke to a lady the other day whose husband had died, and she was totally distressed. I spent some time talking to her; she was angry he had died. She couldn’t speak to anyone, even getting the death certificate at this time did not follow the normal process. We talked that through, and I think by the end of it, having discussed it and having somebody listen to her helped. It’s so important that we listen. Sometimes you don’t have to say anything, you can just be there. One of the team was on a call for 40 minutes and that must be amazing, to just talk to someone and not to be rushed. It’s really important that we do that.” If you need a listening ear or a friendly voice, you can call Mountbatten's Keep Connected phone line at any time of the night or day on (01983) 533331. Because of you, calls from people in distress can be answered at any time of day or night. Your donations mean we can take the time to listen to people’s distress and offer comfort. Your donations mean we are there for people, even when they feel alone. Thank you.