The importance of care at home in the pandemic

With many people fearful about going into hospital due to COVID, more people are choosing to be cared for at home and Rowcroft is facing unprecedented numbers of referrals. Here, Rowcroft’s Deputy Director of Patient Care Vicky Bartlett outlines the advantages that home care offers to both patients and their loved ones.

“Rowcroft provides care and support to people with life-limiting illnesses across South Devon, from Dartmouth to Dawlish, Teignmouth to Totnes,” says Vicky. “For those who do not need the complex care that we provide in our small Inpatient Unit in Torquay, there’s no better place to receive care than at home, and in fact four out of five of our approximately 2500 patients per year are cared for in the comfort of their own homes across the region.

“For many people, home is where the heart is. It’s often where patients feel most calm and content, and where they can get the greatest rest. All their creature comforts are close to hand – be it a much-loved armchair, a favourite book, or a treasured painting.  These familiar things may seem like small details, yet they uniquely shape a patient’s home and often play a significant part in contributing to patient wellbeing. For many of our patients, being in the home they know and love often brings much comfort and peace. It’s a world away from hospital where despite best efforts, there are bright lights, hard clinical surfaces and often noisy bustle.

“Perhaps even more importantly, at home patients can share their days with the people they hold most dear, making the most of their precious time together, and creating new memories to cherish. If the patient has a pet, it can also be by their side bringing much joy and ease.

“Throughout this pandemic, and despite the very best efforts of the devoted teams in hospitals, it’s been heartbreaking to hear about patients in their final hours being unable to spend time with loved ones. It’s here that Rowcroft has been making an incredible difference through our Hospice at Home service: we’ve been able to help patients transfer home from hospital, to be expertly cared for in their final weeks in the loving comfort of their own homes with their loved ones by their side. For many families, being able to be together again evokes feelings of relief and comfort that are hard to put into words.

“Our dedicated Hospice at Home nurses and care teams work around the clock, providing expert end-of-life care and support to patients. And they also enable loved ones to get much-needed rest and sleep, knowing that their loved one is in safe hands – but still close by. This enables families to recharge and to cope better with the immense pressures that come with caring for a relative at home. We also provide 24/7 telephone support – so that loved ones can call any time to ask for advice. Just having someone there to talk to can mean so much for families who are experiencing unimaginably difficult times.

“Throughout the COVID crisis, we could not be prouder of our care teams for enabling our patients to remain in the safety of their own homes and receive such outstanding levels of care. Never has the need for care at home been so important – or in such high demand.

“As a charity, we’ve been continuing to make a genuine difference for so many families – but we also know that we’ve still got a long way to go. While 81% of people would prefer to die at home, in Devon only 24% of people achieve this.  We hope to expand our Hospice at Home service over the coming years by recruiting more nurses and healthcare assistants. This will enable us to offer more vital care, compassion and support to people across South Devon, to help more families to make the most of every last moment, and to enable more patients to fulfill their final wish to die in the loving comfort of home.”

Please visit our Hospice at Home appeal web page to find out more.

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