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Lewis-Manning Hospice Care’s Virtual Day Hospice service is leading the way nationally on innovation with the launch, in January, of its new service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst other hospice providers have introduced similar virtual day care support, it is believed that Lewis-Manning Hospice Care is the only hospice provider in the UK that is going the ‘extra mile’ and providing tablet devices with full connectivity (no home Broadband required) to ensure that all of their patients can access the service. This vital service was made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by the National Lottery Community Fund.

CEO Clare Gallie advised, “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect so many aspects of all our lives and with the temporary closure of our Day Hospice and local hubs across East Dorset and Purbeck, to ensure the safety of our patients, Lewis-Manning needed to find a safe way to continue to support and care for patients at home. In early autumn 2020 a project group was assembled, once the hospice had received funding from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, so that we could launch this fantastic and unique service. Lewis-Manning’s Virtual Day Hospice is one of the platforms that has allowed the organisation to continue to provide expert palliative care and advice, as well as essential support to adults and families in East Dorset and Purbeck who are living with a life-limiting illness.

“So many of our patients felt socially isolated at this time, so it was our aim to provide much-needed social interaction for those people who are shielding at home. The purpose of the virtual sessions is to promote a sense of wellbeing and a positive approach to living with a life-limiting illness, as well as to alleviate the feeling of loneliness that patients may be experiencing and giving direct clinical advice and support.

“Evaluation of the service has been incredibly positive with findings showing that 92% of patients have identified that their quality of life has improved or stayed the same since starting the Virtual Day Hospice (some patients will inevitably become more ill as time progresses due to the nature of their life-limiting illness). 96% reported that the Virtual Day Hospice is a benefit to them in their life, 78% of users reported that it was very easy to join online sessions, 95% reported it gives them benefit in their lives, 96 % said that they were enjoying the sessions.

“When asked what they enjoyed most about the Virtual Day Hospice, 78% said they loved the online face to face contact, whilst 22% said it was the quizzes. When asked what they found of least value in the virtual calls, 87% did not identify anything, 4% said it was the frustration at being unable to connect and 4 % said it was the technical side. When asked if there was anything in the calls that could be improved, 91% did not identify anything and 9% said it would be stress-free connections and increased volume.

“92% of patients stated that their preference of supportive care, ‘once we can see patients face to face again’, would be a hybrid of Virtual Day Hospice and face to face contact, 4% opted to just have virtual support and no face to face contact and a further 4% opted for only face to face support. These findings are invaluable for our clinical team, as it really allows the charity hospice to listen to what matters to the patients and provide them with the care they individually want. It is great to hear so many of the patients see a benefit from this service and want to continue with the Virtual Day Hospice service even when full restrictions are lifted and our Day Hospices are back in full swing.”

Senior Day Hospice Nurse, Mandy Harris said, “To date we have provided devices to 45 patients, delivering directly to their homes with support from our amazing volunteers providing comprehensive training and support to ensure that patients can fully utilise their devices and have full access to the online services. This personalised support helps to alleviate anxiety around usage of the tablets and makes sure that patients have the confidence to engage with all of our online services and to be able fully participate in our diverse programme of events.

“Feedback has been superb with many patients reporting how it is positively impacting on their emotional wellbeing and how they really enjoy the social interaction with both staff and fellow patients. Whilst a virtual service cannot be a total substitute for physical social contact, it has been acknowledged that it goes a long way to being a very positive psychological factor in the routines of the patients that we care for and helps to alleviate the feelings of isolation and loneliness that they might be experiencing at these times and provides much needed companionship. Having listened to the needs and feedback from our patients and their families we know that virtual is certainly working for our hospice community.”

The online programme includes a mix of activities, including;
• Access to a team of experts who specialise in palliative and holistic care
• An opportunity for a private one-to-one consultation with a member of the nursing team
• Gentle exercise
• Mindfulness and relaxation sessions
• A chance for peer support through socialising, allowing patients to be connected with other people with life-limiting illnesses
• Fun interactive activities such as quizzes, art and poetry
• Diversional therapy
• Guest speakers

Patient quotes “I particularly enjoyed the quizzes, they’re such good fun and there’s always much laughter.”

“I feel very fortunate to be able to access one to one clinical support and advice so easily, it makes me feel much more secure and gives me confidence in my care and carers.”

“Mindfulness and exercise classes are so good for my state of mind. I love the fact that I can attend from the comfort of my own living room, it’s like the hospice is visiting me personally at home!”

CEO Clare Gallie concluded, “We are thrilled with the success of our Virtual Day Hospice, the team have done an amazing job to get this service up and running during the huge pressures COVID has brought and at a time when people in our local area so desperately need care and support. The Virtual Day Hospice is certainly helping to give all of our patients more choice and allowing them to continue to access support in the comfort of their own homes. Patients are not disadvantaged if they do not own a computer or if they don’t have home broadband as our solution provides for this allowing us to be even more inclusive..”

Tim Goodson, Chief Officer at NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group commented, ‘We are pleased to be working with Lewis-Manning Hospice Care and believe that the innovation of organisations such as this, who are finding new ways of delivering to meet patient need, make a significant difference.’

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