Here, at Tŷ Hafan, we knew that closure of the hospice and a cessation of our community services, even on a temporary basis, was simply not an option. Pandemic, or no pandemic, knew that our Tŷ Hafan children and families across Wales needed our services more than ever.
So we committed to keeping our hospice open and running – although we simply couldn’t provide care for everyone we wanted to. And we committed to finding safe and creative ways to deliver our community services to all who needed them during this most difficult of times.
While wearing full PPE made even the simplest of tasks more challenging, delivering crisis care and end-of-life-care, wearing a face mask, a visor and a protective gown was very difficult indeed. Full PPE is hot, cumbersome and who can see a reassuring smile through a face mask?
But ‘Team Tŷ Hafan’ kept going – and this includes not only our fantastic care team, but also our wonderful cleaners, our dedicated kitchen staff, our resourceful maintenance workers, and our creative and courageous community care teams who have delivered emotional support online, and food packages and vouchers in person, to those most in need throughout the pandemic.
Finally, we must also acknowledge the construction workers who have been working so hard in the most difficult of conditions to complete our much needed £1 million refurbishment of the hospice.
Thankfully, the rapid roll out of vaccines across Wales and the rest of the UK, is bringing renewed hope to us all that ‘normal life’ can resume in the not-too-distant future.
So as you enjoy the spring flowers and the promise of regeneration and renewal that this season heralds, please think of our Hospice Heroes and what they have managed to achieve in the most difficult of circumstances.
During that time there have been numerous challenges my inspirational colleagues and I have had to overcome, but I have to say, nothing quite like the difficulties we have had to deal with since March 2020 and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
While we watched with growing concern as the virus took hold of the world around us, myself and my colleagues in Tŷ Hafan’s amazing care team knew that somehow we had to keep going for the sake of all the children and families across Wales who rely on our support.
As I am writing this now, I think it is safe to say that we all now have real hope in our hearts that life will return to some sort of normality in the not-too-distant future, thanks to the vaccine roll-out in Wales and the UK.
For so many of us, myself included, perhaps one of the most longed for outcomes will be the ability to travel to see our friends and family again in person, and, surely most cherished of all, to be able to hug them again.
But this time last year, in March 2020, all we could see was a terrifying new disease that was having such a devastating impact on everything we knew and depended on. It took every drop of courage that we had to keep going.
But keep going we did, because it wasn’t about us, it was about our Tŷ Hafan families.
One of the biggest challenges has been having to wear full PPE while delivering care. The FFP3 masks which we are required to wear are hot and uncomfortable and leave a mark on our faces, plus we have had to wear visors too. Couple that with wearing full length PPE and suddenly even doing the simplest of tasks becomes a lot more challenging.
Last summer was the worst because we couldn’t put fans on, we couldn’t even put the air conditioning on. But while it was difficult enough for us, it was even harder for the children because with all that PPE on we looked like spaceman to them.
But I am quite a hopeful person. I always knew it would come to an end. But when would that be? I would just tell myself and my wonderful colleagues – many also coping with the additional challenges of home schooling – that we just had to take it one step at a time.
And that is just what we have done – and not just myself and my colleagues in the care team, but every single one of us who makes up ‘Team Tŷ Hafan’: our cleaners, our kitchen staff, our maintenance workers, and not forgetting the construction workers who are working so hard in the most difficult of conditions to complete our much needed £1 million upgrade to the hospice.
The hospice has remained open and operational throughout the pandemic offering crisis and end-of-life care, although, much as we have wanted to do so, we have simply not been able to offer respite care to all those children and families who we know so desperately want and need it.
Plus, there is all the amazing work that has gone on beyond our four walls. Our community team and family support teams have had to adapt what they do to deliver care virtually – offering our children and their families opportunities to chat, share, sing and play online as they shielded at home across Wales.
Well, while we have already overcome so much, big challenges remain, including making up a gap in our income (due to the pandemic), which is around £1 million (after Covid relief funding). We are hopeful that our 19 shops will be able to reopen again soon, but, even so our income has taken a huge hit from their closure during lockdown, as well as us not being able to hold any in-person fundraising events.
After 12 months of isolation and the exhaustion that comes with being a full-time carer, Tŷ Hafan families need us more than ever. We can’t wait to welcome them back, and to hear the laughter fill the hospice once again. With your support we’ll be able to provide the services and respite that they truly deserve, after what has been an incredibly challenging year.
I don’t consider myself a hero. I am just doing the job as best I can. Tŷ Hafan’s real heroes are supporters like you who have shaved their heads, climbed the height of Pen y Fan up their stairs and ran marathons in their garden to keep our hospice doors open.
Thank you for doing what you can to support us because, without you, there would be no Tŷ Hafan.
A gift of £20 could pay for an hour of care from one of our nurses, giving an exhausted or anxious mum or dad a well needed break.