Staff at St Giles Hospice are bracing themselves for the most challenging weekend of the year as the extra pressures of Easter combine with the expected peak of the coronavirus pandemic in coming days.

St Giles has increased capacity and is coordinating its services carefully with healthcare providers, care homes and paramedics to ensure that they can work effectively together to meet patient needs and the increased demand through the current COVID-19 outbreak.

With two bank holiday days, Easter is traditionally one of the busiest weekends of the year for the hospice and NHS, but in 2020 demand has soared due to the coronavirus crisis.

Katie Taroni, Clinical Director at St Giles Hospice (left) with Nurse Consultant Jade Reberio

St Giles is working hard support the NHS and healthcare services at this time and has quickly adapted its services to meet demand from the community and relieve pressure on hospital services.

Katie Taroni, Clinical Director at St Giles Hospice, who has also been working on the ward with nursing staff during the outbreak, said: “As a hospice we are experiencing a big increase in people needing palliative care at this time and we are working really hard to ensure that we continue to offer the best possible support for our community and local health services.

“By working flexibly and using our facilities to take admissions for patients at the very end of life directly from paramedics and rapid direct admissions from hospitals, we are doing everything we can to ease the pressure on the NHS.”

Hospice inpatient wards in Whittington and Walsall will be fully open to patients over the weekend, and additionally the hospice has made more specialist staff available in the community to help avoid unnecessary hospital admissions at a time when they are under increased pressure.

Extra staff, including Nurse Prescribers, have been added to the specialist community nursing team working remotely and in patients’ homes, to enable a rapid response if needed.

Additionally, Clinical Nurse Specialists will be helping to man the hospice’s 24/7 advice and referral centre for the public and healthcare professionals to signpost people to the right care services. It is also running an enhanced care home support service which gives nursing homes advice and support to look after their residents – including any with COVID-19 – and avoid hospital admissions where possible.

Katie added: “Our dedicated care teams are still out there working 24/7 in our hospices and our community and by continuing to care for the most vulnerable people, we are able to help ease the burden on the NHS right at the time when the demand for their services due to coronavirus is expected to be at its highest.

“However, this also increases the demand on our services, and therefore the support from our communities at this time is crucial.”

St Giles Hospice has launched an urgent appeal for donations in Katie’s name to help keep its vital specialist care services running during the coronavirus crisis, following the disruption to regular fundraising activities and the rising demand for its support.

The hospice relies upon donations and fundraising to finance the £10m it needs each year for its care services, as only around a third of its funding comes from Government.

People can donate to Katie’s Appeal by making a one-off or regular monthly donation online at www.stgileshospice.com/katiesappeal or by calling 01543 432538, or by sending a cheque made payable to ‘St Giles Hospice’ to Katie’s Appeal, St Giles Hospice, Fisherwick Road, Whittington, Lichfield, WS14 9LH.