“The pandemic has cast a shadow over us all”

Reverend Rob Pestell provides spiritual support to patients, families, carers and staff at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice as part of the Family Support Team. In this blog, he shares his experience of providing care throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Reverend Rob Pestell, Hospice Chaplain at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice
Reverend Rob Pestell, Hospice Chaplain at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice

Like many of Sue Ryder’s front line teams, Rob has been working tirelessly throughout the coronavirus pandemic, doing all he can to offer support to patients, families and staff.

The importance of connection

“My role at the hospice has become a lot more intensive in the pandemic,” Rob says. “Everybody has been working so hard and the level of intensity has gone up so much since the outbreak began. People are struggling but I am amazed at their resilience and dedication.

“We are very fortunate to have such a magnificent team of people working together to look after and care for our patients and their families.

“What the coronavirus pandemic has really served to highlight is just how important connection is for us – emotionally and physically.

“Many have been denied the opportunity of holding someone’s hand. Or giving a simple hug and that is hard as it comes so naturally.”

Supported, cared for and loved

“We’re working in an alien environment but there are ways around it and people are creative in making sure we can reach out to patients, families and staff to make sure people are supported, cared for and loved.

“A quiet word of encouragement and a smile can go a long way. Even giving a smile, which can break down barriers and help people to open up and share with one another, is a real challenge at the moment as we are all having to wear a face mask and people are not always aware of how you are responding.

“After a conversation with one patient recently, I said, ‘If you could see my mouth behind the mask you would know that I am smiling at the moment’. She replied, ‘I know you’re smiling as I can see it in your eyes.’ It just goes to show we can communicate in different ways, and make connections, even in these difficult circumstances.”

Day follows night and spring will follow winter 

"The pandemic has cast a shadow over us all this year, and if we then add in the longer nights and the darker days of winter then we could be plunged in a state of doom and depression, until we remember that as sure as day follows night, so also spring will follow winter, and the signs of new life will again be all around us.

“Even though working through the pandemic has been tough at times I love working at the hospice It is a real privilege and very fulfilling, and I hope I help to bring sense of peace and encourage wellbeing in our patients, their families and our staff.”

Sue Ryder is appealing to the people of Gloucestershire to support its urgent fundraising campaign ‘We can’t stop’, so the work of Rob and his fellow hospice care and support teams can continue.

Find out more information on Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, the expert palliative care they provide and ways you can help to support them.

We can't stop

Help to support our urgent fundraising campaign so that we can continue to provide our expert and compassionate end of life care, no matter what.