‘The conversations are a two-way thing, it does us both good’ – Hospice keeps vulnerable residents in North Herts connected during lockdown
PUBLISHED: 15:17 29 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:39 29 April 2020
Garden House Hospice Care’s ‘compassionate neighbours’ are still working throughout this lockdown to ensure older members of the community in Letchworth, Royston and Stevenage feel connected.
Tom and Jeanne Batterbury signed up to the scheme nine months ago, and have been running errands, picking up prescriptions, and passing on information about potential COVID–19 scams to their community.
Compassionate neighbours are trained Garden House Hospice volunteers who provide social and emotional support to vulnerable people. They offer regular visits, friendship and a listening ear to those who need it the most, helping them to stay connected.
While compassionate neighbours cannot currently visit their community members, many are catching up through weekly calls or delivering shopping.
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“My wife and I signed up as compassionate neighbours to give something back,” Tom Batterbury says. “My mum died in the hospice 18 months ago – she was 91 – and had been so happy with the care she received.
“I used to visit my two community members on a Sunday morning and afternoon, and now we do weekly calls to help them with the little things.” Tom’s wife Jeanne also volunteers every Monday afternoon at the Royston Community Hub, run by the Hospice. “For me, the conversations are a two-way thing,” Jeanne says. “It does us both good. Of course, we wonder how all the people we aren’t seeing at the hub are doing, and we have to keep hoping and praying they will get back to normality soon and they will be alright.”
Meanwhile, 97-year-old Dick Stanley has been receiving weekly calls from his compassionate neighbour, Helen. Dick says he looks forward to these chats as the highlight of his week.
“We have a shared passion for gardening,” Dicks says. “I’d like to meet Helen one day when everything returns to normal. I’m not too bothered by all of this, which is probably why I have lived so long.”
Richard Julian, community development manager at Garden House Hospice, underlines the importance of “positive social interaction,” and says the hospice will continue to support these community members throughout the coronavirus outbreak.
“We will ensure we can operate within the restrictions, and are developing safe ways to offer social support,” Richard said.
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