A SENIOR hospice nurse has spoken out about her team’s ‘challenging and emotional’ work caring for patients at home during the coronavirus crisis.

While the country was on lockdown, East Cheshire Hospice’s dedicated Hospice @Home team was on the front line of healthcare, visiting patients in their homes as usual.

But the experience has been anything but usual for the team’s 12 specialist nurses and highly-trained healthcare assistants or their patients.

Some of the team also tested positive for Covid-19, but East Cheshire Hospice immediately followed guidelines to keep staff and patients safe, and those workers have now recovered.

Tess Cleaver, Hospice @Home manager, said: “When the virus started some patients were scared. They wanted us to get in touch but didn’t want staff visiting to reduce footfall in their homes.

“Then when they saw us and district nurses wearing the personal protective equipment (PPE) that was reassuring.

“Staff might finish visiting at 8 pm during the Clap for Carers and that was touching. It was lovely for the clinical staff on the inpatient ward to receive a visit from Macclesfield police one Thursday.

“One staff member had to move away from a relative who was in the high-risk group. It’s been emotional at times and we’ve all had to make difficult decisions.”

Gloves, aprons, water-resistant face masks and visors have been worn at all times by the Hospice @Home team, although keeping up with guidance on PPE presented a challenge in itself.

Hospice @Home had to suspend its services for two weeks early in May so further precautions could be put in place.

Tess said: “It’s been challenging and closing the service temporarily was difficult.

“We didn’t take the decision lightly, but it was made by the senior team to ensure we were operating in the safest possible way.

“That was our guiding factor and without that adjustment we’d have struggled to function as normal.

“We had great support from other health care providers and family members were amazing. They understood that we were doing everything to make sure we kept their loved ones safe.”

Having previously only run on weekends and evenings, Hospice @Home is now available 24 hours a day.

“We’ve had to make a lot of changes and be adaptable and the response from hospice staff has been fantastic,” Tess added.

“Everyone has pulled together. Staff have been flexible, helping out in other hospice roles when we shut down, and I can’t thank them enough.”