St Mary’s launches Carers’ Coffee Catch up by Zoom during Carers Week 2020

St Mary’s is recognising the wonderful support that carers’ give by launching a Carers’ Coffee Catch Up zoom, timed to start in Annual Carer’s Week (running 8th to 14th June 2020). Carers Week is an annual awareness campaign to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers. St Mary’s has teamed up with Furness Carers to provide weekly support, bring people together to share experiences and offer friendships. The theme for Carers Week 2020 is ‘Making Caring Visible,’ which is especially important when people are experiencing isolation. Caring for someone who is unwell can be difficult at any time, but with the current coronavirus pandemic it is probably feeling a lot more worrying and stressful. There has been 4.5 million additional people caring for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives or friends since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Louisa Warner, Occupational Therapist, St Mary’s Living Well Team: “We held our first Coffee and Catch up zoom this Monday and received positive feedback. If you would like to join the next session, please join our St Mary’s Living Well and Stay Connected page on Facebook. The closed facebook page is also used as a place to keep people connected, share coping mechanisms, practical techniques, or simple ideas which aim to improve wellbeing.”

St Mary’s is there for carers and due to the coronavirus outbreak, the usual support services have been paused and the Living Well team has worked flexibly to continue to be there. The Living Well team has set up a closed online facebook group providing support, advice and information on coping strategies and practical techniques. There is also regular contact with those who normally attend day hospice programmes. It is important to highlight that these groups are for carers too, so they can come along and benefit from tools, tips and self care. The Living Well team have released a set of videos via social media to encourage self care for all, which can be found on St Mary’s social media and Youtube channel (links at the footer of our web page).

Val Stangoe, St Mary’s Chief Exec: “To help respond to our community’s needs during this time, our Living Well and Bereavement Teams continued to deliver emotional support by telephone, Facebook and zoom to people living with loneliness and grief. The number of people using the Bereavement Service has risen by 40%. In the last few weeks the Living Well Service has been resumed through online support. We also now run monthly Remembrance Services to help people remember those they have lost.”

Lynsey Lawson, Clinical Lead- Family Support and Bereavement Team/ Living Well Team : “I am so proud of how the team have been able to adapt and respond during this difficult time. Working in different and innovative ways has been important. We are unable to provide face to face support, however there are many ways we can still support people – patients, their loved ones and carers – to be there together. Supporting each other is essential. We talk daily and acknowledge that things are difficult at the moment. It is vital we care for the whole family.”

We are grateful for the feedback: “In these strange times I have been so grateful to read posts, have the group support and someone at the end of a message or phone line. So important to know you aren’t alone xxx”

The Family and Bereavement Support Team have been in phone contact more frequent and set up and online closed facebook page group and monthly hold an online remembrance service: with the next one scheduled on 19th June. These are openly available – whether individuals have used the hospice services or not. The hospice have worked hard to bring community spirit online.

St Mary’s have also added additional videos on social media and their website, from recipes in the café to self care and a Good grief advice video, and held a zoom with a yoga expert.

To join the closed facebook groups: search on facebook for Living Well and Staying Connected or St Mary’s Hospice Bereavement Support.

Dates for your diary include: Weekly Zoom Carers’ Café Catch up – every Monday at 2pm, and our next monthly Remembrance Service via facebook live feed is Friday 19th June at 10.30am.

St Mary’s Hospice gives expert care and support with kindness to local people affected by advancing illness to have comfort, choice and dignity. We support patients from the moment of diagnosis and their families and carers for longer. St Mary’s is there when it matters most. And ongoing support is delivered through expert teams and a range of services across our hospice and in our community. St Mary’s services are free of charge to our community but they are not free to provide. It costs over £3m a year to keep our hospice open and services running, with 18% of our funding from the NHS the rest comes directly from donations from our supportive community. Please follow the link if you would like to support St Mary’s with a donation or a regular gift.