An update from our Chief Executive, Nigel Harding

This is by far one of the most challenging and unprecedented times that many of us have had to face and I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well at this difficult time.

At Shooting Star Children’s Hospices our main priority is to do all we can to maintain services where possible and ensure the safety of the children and families we care for, as well as our staff, volunteers and supporters. We are continuing to closely monitor developments in relation to COVID-19 and we’re following guidance from Public Health England, the UK Government and the World Health Organisation.

Please find information below outlining how the current situation is affecting Shooting Star Children’s Hospices.

Our hospices

The babies, children and young people we support have compromised immune systems, which places them in a high-risk category so we’ve had to make tough, but necessary, decisions to ensure they, and their families, are safe. The measures we currently have in place are:

  • We are continuing to provide end-of-life care and emergency or urgent respite (including symptom stays and step-down care). Planned respite is currently not available, except for nights funded by the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
  • We have launched a virtual hospice, including virtual groups, a closed Facebook page and an online resource ‘hub’, to continue to reach as many families as possible. We are also continuing to deliver symptom management and community nursing support, as well as our Family Support Line, bereavement support, therapies and counselling.
  • We are currently delivering all our clinical services from our Guildford hospice, Christopher’s, but we’re continuing to support children and families from across our catchment area – throughout Surrey and across 15 boroughs of London. Our Hampton hospice, Shooting Star House, remains closed to families for now and it’s unlikely it’ll re-open this financial year for overnight stays, however, we’re looking at how we can use Shooting Star House flexibly; for instance, in August we held a day for bereaved families at Shooting Star House and we’re looking at whether some of our Family Support Services (therapies, activity days etc) could be held here.
  • Face-to-face family groups and events have stopped, and professional courses and study days have been postponed.
  • Only supported families and care staff are permitted at the hospice.
  • Our care team are equipped with PPE and have their temperature checked when they enter the hospice, and we have posters up reminding everyone to regularly wash their hands.
  • We’re being extra vigilant to ensure high contact areas such as door handles, light switches and toilets are being thoroughly cleaned.

We are continuing to assess and adapt what care we can safely provide right now, during the coronavirus pandemic, and we hope that in time we can start providing more elements of our face-to-face care as Government guidance relaxes.

COVID-19 risk assessments

Please find below the risk assessments we have in place for both Christopher’s and Shooting Star House, where our non-care staff are currently based.

Christopher’s

Shooting Star House

Fundraising and our shops

The day after the UK went into lockdown in March 2020, we launched an emergency appeal to help bridge some of the gap we were facing in loss of income due to the coronavirus restrictions. We are extremely thankful and grateful to everyone who donated to our emergency appeal – you truly helped to ensure we could continue to provide our lifeline services during the first UK lockdown, one of the most difficult of times we have ever faced.

On Thursday 8th April 2020, we were given the welcome news that the UK Government were stepping up to help charities. We are thankful that at a time when our vital services are most needed, services that play an important role in supporting the NHS, the government made some vital funding available. However, this funding will only help us in the short-term. We are, sadly, still very reliant on our incredible community of supporters to help us whilst the pandemic continues to ensure we’ll be here long into the future.

Our events

Our Sunrise Walk will be back in June and this year we’ve again made it virtual. Keep an eye on our Virtual Sunrise Walk for more information. Our Snowdon Sunrise Walk, which was new for 2020, will go ahead in September.

Cancelling our 2020 Sunrise Walk series was a truly difficult decision for us to make and was disappointing for so many of our supporters. A huge thank you to everyone who instead took part virtually instead – we can’t thank you enough for your support and hope we can see you at one of our 2021 walks this year.

You can find out more about the measures we will put in place at our events to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in our Risk Mitigation Statement.

Our shops

Following guidance from the government, our shops have been closed for much of the last year.  After an incredibly tough year for our shops, we are delighted to confirm that our charity shops are scheduled to reopen starting with Weybridge and Shepperton on 4th May, Hampton Hill on 6th May, Guildford and Cobham on 8th May and Teddington on 10th May. We will also be accepting your donations, although Shepperton, Hampton Hill and Guildford initially have limits per donation, please check with your local shop to confirm details.

Long term impact

As I’ve outlined above, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable impact on Shooting Star Children’s Hospices in terms of the care that we can provide at this time and our ability to fundraise. We have done all we can to reduce our monthly outgoings, but to ensure we can continue to meet the needs of the families we support now and in the future, we’ve had to make further changes. Over the summer of 2020 we were in consultation with our staff and, whilst we did everything we could to keep changes to our workforce to a minimum, we very sadly had to make some redundancies.

We’ve also had to adapt our care service offering. The main change that we’ve made is consolidating the care we provide into three areas. This will help us to work in a more streamlined and holistic way, now and in the future, whilst still ensuring we can provide the families we support with care that’s responsive to their needs:

  • In-house care – we will continue to provide overnight care at our hospices including emergency respite, symptom stays and planned respite for families who are eligible. This is a core area of our work as a children’s hospice and will not be changing. What is changing? We have seen a declining need for our Day Care and pre-school groups, so these in-house services will no longer be provided.
  • Symptom and community nursing – our symptom clinical nurse specialists and community nurses will work as one team providing end-of-life care and symptom management. Again, these services are vital to the families we support. What is changing? With our community nurses focusing on end-of-life care, we will no longer be able to provide respite in the family home.
  • Family support – our family support workers (previously known as keyworkers), therapists, counsellors, social workers and transition co-ordinator will now work together in one team ensuring non-clinical support is provided holistically. We have also launched a Family Support Line which families can call for advice or support, if they would just like someone to talk to, if they want to discuss respite, or if they’d like to be referred for counselling or therapies. What is changing? We are continuing to deliver all parts of our family support service (although currently these services are being provided virtually).

I’d like to thank you for all your support during this pandemic. We have been blown away at how our community has come together to help us continue to provide care during the most challenging of times. Whilst the next few months remain uncertain for the UK, what we do know is we will continue to need you. So, whether you donate, take on a virtual challenge for us, ask your company to support us or simply share our posts on social media – please do all you can to continue supporting your local children’s hospice.

Please do continue to check this page as we will update it as and when things change.

Thank you for your continued support,

Nigel

 

Last updated: 05/01/2021

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