Our latest newsletter is landing on doormats across Calderdale and beyond this week along with the below message from our Chief Executive. 

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Dear Supporters,

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to change so many aspects of our lives, and the news is focussed on the terrible stories of loss that coronavirus is bringing, I wanted to let you know how your support is helping us to do everything we can to minimize the impact on the patients and families in our care and help our NHS and the wider community to get through this incredibly difficult time.

Our clinical teams continue to be here, caring for those in our community who are facing the end of their lives. They continue to provide a home from home for them, and their families, and do their best to shield them from the chaos outside. We remain committed to continuing to allow patients to have a loved one by their side, especially in their final hours and we are doing everything we can to ensure we do this as safely as possible.

Our doctors and nurses have the correct personal protective equipment to keep them safe which means that we can continue to care for people in Calderdale who require our expert end of life care, even if they are showing symptoms of or have a confirmed Covid-19 infection. The last couple of months have seen huge changes in the way we work in order to ensure our staff and patients’ safety and it has been incredibly challenging but I am so proud of our teams for their continued dedication to providing the very best care to those who need it most. I am in awe of the bravery they have shown, leaving their loved ones at home to care for someone else’s.

We are embracing new technology to provide as much support as possible, offering telephone support to our Day Hospice patients as well as continuing our counselling service via video call.

Like many of you, we want to do everything we can to help the local fight against Covid-19. We are hearing so many stories of families who have lost loved ones in the most desperate circumstances. Supporting people through bereavement is something that we do every day at Overgate and our team have the skills and experience to be there for these families.

So, working with the local NHS, we have launched a new telephone support service. Our team will be just a phone call away, ready to listen and provide support.

We also know the intense emotional strain the pandemic is having on our health and social care colleagues; the doctors, nurses, care workers who are working on the front line in this fight. This support line will also be there for them. A listening ear after a long and difficult shift.

We have made many difficult decisions over the last couple of months but the hardest of these has been the heart-breaking decision to ask most of our volunteers to stay at home and suspend their volunteering roles. We made this decision as so many fall into the vulnerable categories and we need to keep them safe during this time but they are being sorely missed. We have over 700 volunteers at Overgate and each one plays a vital role in ensuring the care we give to our community, continues. Without them, the Hospice is not quite the same but we must prioritise their health and safety to ensure that when our services and fundraising return to normal, they are ready to join us.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their continued support – put very simply, without each one of our volunteers; the Hospice would not be here today. We hope to be able to welcome them all back very soon.

As May draws to a close we can now see the full financial impact of the Government restrictions on our income. Each one of our 14 charity shops have been shut for weeks. Our fundraising events have been cancelled and the uncertainty around how long the social distancing measures will last means that no one is signing up to our events later in the year. Despite the very welcomed Government funding for hospices, we are expecting the financial impact of the pandemic to be felt for many months to come. We know that for so many, this is a time of financial hardship and uncertainty but if you are able to help, your support will mean so much for the families in our care. It is so important the Hospice is here for these people, who are facing a challenge much greater than many of us can imagine, preparing to lose a loved one. The coronavirus outbreak is not important to them right now. They just need to be together, surrounded by love and care.

This is why your support means more now than ever before.

There are so many ways you can support us from your home. Whether you donate to our Support a Nurse Appeal, take on a challenge and raise sponsorship or ask for donations instead of birthday presents, you will be helping someone in your community as they face their most difficult time.

In the midst of all of the desperately sad news of lost loved ones and difficult working conditions for our healthcare heroes, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride. They say difficult times bring out the best in humanity and I am definitely seeing the very best of Calderdale right now.

Please continue looking after each other and stay safe.

With heartfelt thanks for all your support,

Janet Cawtheray
Chief Executive of Overgate Hospice