Support during the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge challenge to all of us but none more so than to our socially isolated clients at Kilbryde Hospice who use our befriending service. In August 2019 Kilbryde Hospice befriending service became part of a joint project with two other hospices in Lanarkshire, named Compassionate Lanarkshire (CLAN). We had our befriending service up & running however, with the Big Lottery & Health & Social care funding we were able to expand the scope of the service we could offer. Seven clients were already matched and receiving very happy and successful home visits with their befriender. Some who were able, being re-introduced to their community using a strength-based approach. Then along came COVID-19.
Discussion had previously taken place about the possibility of lockdown occurring with our befrienders and therefore, contingency plans had been made. The volunteers we recruit into befriending are compassionate and caring individuals and were devastated at the thought of their befriendee who,- already socially isolated, becoming more so as a result of the pandemic. After discussion all had agreed that they would be very willing to continue with weekly phone or video calls to their befriendee’s should they wish it. Many of our volunteer befrienders are aged over 70 and therefore some of them were advised to start shielding causing them to also become socially isolated. The situation was discussed with our clients and all agreed that they would be thrilled if their befriender were able to continue calling them once a week. This service has continued for over five months now and remains the way we are offering our befriending service in line with Scottish Government recommendations for physical distancing.
Having spoken to all the clients, the feedback has been very uplifting. They all report looking forward to their weekly call and the feeling that someone out there cares enough to give them the time. They miss seeing their befriender but are so grateful to have been given this alternative and not ‘been forgotten’. They felt they were doing something so positive during such an awful time in our lives and they also looked forward to the calls and were surprised at how easy it was for conversation to flow.
My calls from my befriender really brighten my day. HC on behalf of his wife JC who has Parkinson Disease and some mild cognitive impairment – The calls from our befriender have meant so much to both of us she is wonderful. DR a lady with Rectal Cancer – I really enjoy my phone calls with my befriender, it breaks up my week. We would like to relay our sincere gratitude to our volunteer befrienders for their continued commitment to their role within CLAN & Kilbryde Hospice. They go above and beyond.
Sine MacDonald and Jane Killen CLAN Co Ordinator and Clinical Support Worker.