ellenor’s Chief Executive praises staff for their dedication to patients living with life-limiting or terminal illness in Kent.

ellenor provides specialised hospice care for patients of all ages at its hospice in Gravesend, through its community palliative care teams and within the home.  As an independent local charity, ellenor is reliant on community support to deliver its work, having to reach an annual target of £7 million every year to provide care. Only a quarter of our funding is from the NHS.

Vikki Harding, ellenor’s Chief Executive said,

“We have never experienced anything like the Coronavirus. We have accelerated our work to help people stay safe, informed and connected. We are of course urging everyone – staff, patients and their families – to do all that is needed to look after themselves and their loved ones and to follow all the government instructions regarding protection.

“In these unprecedented moment times, we are making significant changes to our care services, to cope with a significant rise in patient numbers due to Coronavirus.

“As a nurse with over 36 years’ experience of caring for patients and their families myself, I know how lucky I am to lead a large team of passionate, dedicated healthcare professionals, support staff and volunteers, all of whom share one goal. This is to give every child or adult patient and their families the expert care and support we would want for our own loved ones, and, when the time comes, an end-of-life journey that is peaceful, comfortable and dignified.  I would stress that the Coronavirus crisis in no way changes that goal, even though we know we will be asked to care for many more vulnerable people over the next few months. Our responsibility is to re-think and adapt the way we care for and support local people in our community, so we can still be there to provide the expert care they need.

“Our patients, old and young, are the very people who are most vulnerable to this virus – and our nursing and clinical teams are at the front line of their care. The action we took just a few days ago is profound.  We made plans to increase our in-patient beds from seven to fifteen – and to have those new beds open and ready for patients as soon as they are needed. Our staff are adapting work shifts and patterns and we are all now permanently on call – myself included – to lend a hand. Our expanded In-Patient Unit will continue to provide end-of-life care for local adults and we will continue to support adult patients in their own homes through our Community Nursing service.

“Children needing end-of-life care in our community will continue to be supported in their homes – but again this will increase substantially as hospital beds close. We provide chemotherapy at home to many children already – many more will need our support for this over the coming weeks. These changes will mean these exceptionally vulnerable children continue to receive the vital nursing care they need – while also again relieving pressure on our NHS colleagues.

“While our Day Therapy centre has been closed for the time being to avoid any possible spread of infection, our teams continue to communicate with patients and families in different ways to continue to provide the support they need.

“We have had to close our shops and cancel the majority of our fundraising activities, which means a loss of income.  There’s already been a huge drop in the fundraising income that pays for the lion’s share of our work. We have closed all our shops (except the one inside Darent Valley Hospital itself – the staff there have asked us to keep that open for them). We rely on the money our shops and events raise to pay for our essential care services. This sudden extra burden on our care teams places an even greater burden on our funds. We are updating our Facebook page regularly on changes to fundraising events.

“In this unprecedented time of uncertainty our dedicated team of healthcare professionals, support staff and volunteers are working tirelessly to support all our patients, and families during this difficult time and are working closely with our NHS colleagues to support the local community at this critical time.  We remain committed to providing the best possible care and support to adults who come to the hospice – and to the children we will reach at home. I am immensely proud of our whole team’s commitment to their work and of how they are adapting to this ever-evolving situation. Together we will continue to support our community.