We've been so proud of Team Demelza rising to face the challenges of this year's Coronavirus pandemic. Our Care Teams have adapted to delivering services in new and creative ways, and some have even shared their skills with others or come out of retirement to help shoulder the care needs of our communities. Carol is a familiar friendly face to the families who usually see her at our hospice in Eltham, South East London. Recently, Carol spent some time with the Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice Team. She's written about her experiences with them for us.

"I have just spent the last three weeks working as a Heath Care Assistant with the Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice Team, based at the main hospice in Bostall Heath. The team were very friendly and welcoming and they guided and supported me into my new temporary role.

We worked in pairs and travelled around the boroughs of Greenwich and Bexley, providing personal care to patients in their own homes. These patients had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, with less than 12 weeks to live. The team were particularly busy as many of the patients preferred to stay at home rather than go in to the main hospice, due to the COVID-19 virus and limited visitors.

I met some lovely people during my time with the team, both patients and staff. Despite the patients’ diagnoses, there were still smiles, laughter, music and dancing in their homes as well as stories to be told. The team carried out their duties with extreme care and gentleness and gave their patients all the dignity they deserved.

I came away from my time with the team with a great deal of respect for the staff. They have been working in very difficult circumstances, due to the COVID-19 virus. Their work is demanding in normal circumstances, often several of their patients die each week. With COVID-19 their job has been made even more challenging, wearing goggles, visors and masks to make sure everyone is fully protected. This equipment is uncomfortable to wear, especially in the heat and it inhibits communication, both verbal and nonverbal with patients and their families, something that is so important in palliative care. Social distancing is almost impossible at times, with family members who are often upset and want to chat. Despite these issues, the team have continued their work, providing excellent care and the families have been extremely thankful.

I will always remember my time with the community team and I am thankful that Demelza gave me the opportunity to support them. The experience has been invaluable and has reminded me that we must make the most of each day.

I am now looking forward to returning to Demelza in Eltham, to reunite with the Care Team and face whatever challenges lay ahead in the coming months, together."

Thank you for sharing your wonderful words Carol, and many thanks to Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice Team for taking such good care of her!