Because of you…our Mountbatten nurses and carers on the frontline are protected from coronavirus. 

The practicalities of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak are exhausting. Yet, your response to our appeal has been overwhelming. And is giving our team of nurses, carers, and clinicians the strength to carry on.  

The coronavirus outbreak has meant more phone consultations than usual, with some patients in the community contacted daily. Home visits continue unabated for those closer to the end of life or where a phone assessment is inadequate. With little to no testing available in the community, visits are treated with the utmost caution in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all patients. 

Its only thanks to your generosity that these visits could take place at all. And it means hundreds of Island people are being cared for at home, in familiar surroundings, with the people they love by their side. 

Hospice care focuses on pain management, as well as emotional and spiritual care. The aim for our nurses, carers and clinicians is to provide every patient with comfort and dignity in death, and bereavement support for family members through their grief.  

For hospice professionals so focused on giving sensitive, emotional care to those in the last days of their lives, the wearing of PPE creates a real physical barrier. 

“Non-verbal communication is so important when caring for a dying patient but can be difficult when you’re wearing a mask’’ say’s Mountbatten medical consultant, Dr Paul Howard, who leads our teams of nurses, carers and clinicians. 

“The patient or family can’t even see your face properly. It’s physically challenging too; trying to put a stethoscope in your ears while wearing a visor is not easy. Often our patients can’t hear you properly either; it’s making the job much harder.” 

According to Dr Howard, perhaps one of the most distressing aspects of the coronavirus is that there is sometimes not enough time to build a rapport with patients and their families; deaths from COVID-19 can sometimes be rapid. Which means providing relief from pain and other symptoms in a patient’s own home can be preferable to an ambulance journey involving moving them from the comfort of their own home and potential separation from loved ones. If hospital admission is needed, Mountbatten’s end of life care extends through a small, expert team working in partnership with St Mary’s. 

“When someone is not expected to survive,” Dr Howard says, “our Mountbatten team is there to help control the patient’s symptoms and offer emotional support.” 

Among some distressing scenes, it is the community’s response that is giving the team strength, according to Dr Howard. ‘So many people are facing real challenges and hardship, yet they are still giving what they can to keep us going – it means so much to us all and keeps our spirits up’ he said. 

And it is not only your gifts that bolster our team on the front line, as Dr Howard explains. “You can be standing in the middle of Newport putting on your mask and visor, getting ready to go into someone’s house and the warmth from passers-by is so encouraging.” 

“There have been examples of impromptu support, where our Mountbatten nurses might be leaving a property, and the whole cul-de-sac has turned out in applause. People can be so kind,” Dr Howard concluded. 

Because of you, Mountbatten nurses and carers have the protection they need and the strength to carry on. Thank you.