A charity, long respected locally for the high quality of the specialist care it provides for terminally ill people, has received high-profile recognition for going over and above to continue its vital service throughout the pandemic.
On Monday 23 November, the Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice team was named London Regional Winner in the Excellence in Healthcare Award category of the prestigious NHS Parliamentary Awards 2020, celebrating those who go the extra mile to ensure that the people in their care receive the best possible experience. Being chosen as regional champion puts the highly-skilled, dynamic team on the shortlist for the national award, the winner of which will be announced next July at an official ceremony at the Palace of Westminster.
The team, which was nominated for the award by Abena Oppong-Asare, Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead, looks after 2,500 patients a year at home, in care homes, in the hospice building at Bostall Woods and in Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich. Staff and volunteers also help patients’ families and carers by providing emotional support and practical advice, making a very difficult time that little bit easier.
Abena Oppong-Asare said “I’m pleased to have nominated Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice team for the Excellence in Healthcare award. The hospice team went above and beyond during COVID-19 to keep loved ones together and make sure vulnerable individuals were supported. I have to commend not just the team but the many volunteers who stepped up during this period in their work with Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice”
When the pandemic struck earlier this year, presenting all sorts of challenges, the team adapted quickly to ensure those who rely on the specialist care of the hospice continued to receive it seamlessly and with the same compassion as always. Staff and volunteers alike rallied, reassuring patients and their loved ones they had not been forgotten at such a turbulent time and continuing to make the community a kinder place for people living and dying with terminal illness.
Among this dedicated team is hospice social worker, Glyn Berry. Just like her colleagues, she has had to adapt the way she works, adhering to the safety measures in place to protect patients, staff, volunteers and the wider community against COVID-19. With much of the hospice outpatient provision temporarily halted, all of the team have been phoning patients to offer them support.
Glyn said: “We’re listening and reassuring them. We are still caring for patients and their families. It isn’t the way we would normally do it, but we are still a 24/7 service.”
The Hospice team have also been putting together comfort boxes of basic food and toiletry supplies – with a couple of goodies thrown in – and delivering them to patients in the community.
Glyn said: “It may be a small thing, but it’s a massive thing for somebody who’s undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy or immunotherapy and it’s not safe for them to go out.
“Our ethos is to help people to keep living until they die. It’s to help people have a good death – and we’re still trying to do that as much as we humanly can.”
Chief Executive of Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice Kate Heaps said: “Being named London Regional Winner is fantastic news and we are all delighted. It is testament not only to our team’s tireless work but the passion with which they do it so that patients get the holistic, compassionate and co-ordinated care they need – and deserve – to help them live well to the end of their lives.
“Throughout the pandemic, my colleagues have shown courage and compassion: visiting patients when no-one else would; working in full, uncomfortable PPE through their shifts; developing new volunteering roles so our patients do not feel isolated; delivering food packages as well as care, and – when it has been safe to do so – keeping our shops open to help raise the funds we need to do what we do.