Hospice Care Week 2020: Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice volunteers get creative to be there for patients during pandemic

Big hearted Befriending volunteers from Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice have found innovative ways to overcome challenges created by the Coronavirus pandemic to continue friendship and support for patients through difficult times.

Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice volunteer befriender Stewart Rood calls a befriendee on the phone.
Sue Ryder volunteer befriender Stewart Rood calling a befriendee on the phone.

During Hospice Care Week, we are joining forces with Hospice UK to show you what it takes to provide the expert palliative care that our patients and their families need and deserve at the end of life.

Throughout this week, we'll be sharing stories to celebrate our amazing staff and volunteers who work hard every day to be there when it matters and support people through the most difficult times of their lives.

Friendship, companionship and support

Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, just outside Cheltenham, runs a popular befriending scheme which connects people living with life limiting conditions with a volunteer for friendship, companionship and support.

With many patients in the vulnerable category, many have been shielding, so hospice befrienders have switched from home visits to telephone and video support to make sure they can continue to be there when it matters.

Allotments, sausage-making and flowering cucumbers

Over the past five months, countless telephone and video conversations have taken place, covering a vast range of topics from the serious to the hilarious – from health concerns to allotments, sausage-making, night skies, block paving to flowering cucumbers!

Some volunteers have gone the extra mile, delivering shopping to patients who are shielding, or making a door stop delivery of a home-made cake or cooked meal.

Others have made video calls during walks to share the views with their Befriendees. One volunteer has even taken to writing a short story each week to send to her Befriendee to read.

“For people living with a terminal diagnosis, the isolation that Coronavirus has brought has been particularly difficult”

70 year old Stewart Rood, from Cheltenham, is a Befriending Volunteer at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice. He said, “For people living with a terminal diagnosis, the isolation that Coronavirus has brought has been particularly difficult, and if as Befrienders we can relieve a bit of that sense of isolation each week, we are pleased to do so.” 

“We really miss offering face-to-face support and look forward to the day those visits can resume, but for the time being we’re supporting patients via phone call and it does good for both parties as it provides a link to the outside world for us all.”

“Supporting patients via phone call provides a link to the outside world for us all”

 “One patient I support has dementia and is not able to communicate by phone. His wife is his sole carer and can’t leave him. My visits meant she could have a bit of free time to herself and of course this has not been possible since March.

“I continue to telephone each week to speak with her. We chat about all sorts of subjects, and in some ways this has led to me befriending the Befriendee's wife.  That’s what makes the care by Sue Ryder special – we look after the whole family.”

“Each week I enjoy seeing where my weekly chats will take me….”

“Each week I enjoy seeing where my weekly chats will take me…. anything from badgers to Vietnam, to footballers’ pay and making marmalade!” 

Elise Hoadley, Hospice Director at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice said, “We are truly grateful to our team of Volunteer Befrienders for all their care, commitment and creativity in making sure they can continue to be there when it matters for our patients during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

“Their care is personal and heartfelt, even when circumstances make it a challenge”

“Their care is personal and heartfelt, even when circumstances make it a challenge. I know the support they give means a great deal to our patients and their carers.”

Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice is the only palliative care inpatient unit in Gloucestershire and alongside its hospice at home and day hospice service provides expert palliative care and support for people who are living with a life-limiting condition, as well as supporting their families.

The Coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on Sue Ryder as a charity, with our retail shops closing overnight at the start of the pandemic and fundraising events cancelled, despite incurring additional costs for PPE for our doctors and nurses. This financial year, Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice faces a funding gap of £1.6million, so the dedication and kindness of our volunteers means more than ever to us.

Find out more information on Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, the specialist palliative care and support they provide for people with life-limiting conditions and their families, as well as ways you can help to support them.

Volunteer with Sue Ryder

We have many different volunteering opportunities and ways you can help us to be there when it matters.