Hospice nurses are being helped to spend extra time visiting children with life-limiting illnesses and their families thanks to a Wiltshire Community Foundation grant.
Julia’s House Children’s Hospice has been given £4,953 from the community foundation’s Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Fund to fund the extra costs of home visits to 50 families across the county.
The fund has now raised more than £718,000 and made grants of almost £500,000 to more than 140 groups.
Fundraiser Lisa Holmes said anxious parents shielding their vulnerable youngsters at home need extra support. “You might have, for example, a child that quite regularly has seizures. The parents can get worried if it is a serious seizure and whether they need to go into hospital,” she said. “They live with that all the time, but knowing a nurse is on the end of a phone and can come whenever they need them is a lifeline.”
The hospice, based in Devizes, allows families it cares for up to 200 hours of home visits a year but, said Mrs Holmes: “Because we are unable to hold our regular family group events, there have been a lot of extra requests for visits, sometimes two or three a week.
“We have relationships with families that go some way back so they do trust the nurses already, so they have been asking them to bring their food because they know they are going to wipe it down and do the extra checks that wouldn’t be happening with any other type of delivery. That is all taking up the extra time.”
The community foundation grant is paying for staff and mileage costs, as well as PPE. “The nurses have to be completely safe so that the families feel reassured and secure. For some of the families, the nurses going in are the only person they see at all,” said Mrs Holmes.
“They are very worried and that will be the case for them for some time to come. As lockdown restrictions lift for a lot of us, there is an extra uncertainty because there still isn’t a sure fire way for them that it is okay to go out.”
The twenty-eight Wiltshire nurses have abandoned their usual rotas and are answering calls for help around the clock. Mrs Holmes said: “Nurses have been very flexible about their rotas and standing in for one another. It has put a strain on the team, but they are doing really well, and they are keeping together.
They are even fundraising in their spare time by walking 24,000 miles around the world.
“The grant is really helping to keep them all going and we are so grateful.”
The hospice itself has been closed since the start of the lockdown but Mrs Holmes said: “Things are changing and there are talks about how we open up again.”
Another grant beneficiary is Wiltshire Race Equality Council, which has been given £1,200 for a telephone befriending service to provide advice and support for the BAME community.
The group, based in Silver Street, Trowbridge, is supporting 40 families, some of whom don’t speak English, with access to services and in dealing with a range of issues they cannot deal with on their own. Fundraiser Sonia Carr said: “One of our clients is the victim of domestic abuse. Another client has three autistic children.”
To donate to the Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Fund or to find out how to apply for a grant, go to www.wiltshirecf.org.uk
Pictured: Julia's House nurse Sam Roberts ready for a visit in PPE