My Name is David Hardiman and I am a volunteer as part of the chaplaincy team here at Willow Wood Hospice and am the minister of Zion Congregational Church in Hyde.
In normal times I am usually found around the hospice on a Monday, either morning or afternoon, talking to patients, day visitors, staff and anyone who wants to chat. However, as we are all aware since March, due to Covid 19, nothing has been normal!
Normally our role as chaplains is to offer a listening ear to anyone who wishes to talk, to visit patients who may not have any relatives, to assist relatives in what can be very difficult time. We also assist the staff in their duties, helping patients feel comfortable in their stay at Willow Wood. As a Christian Minister I also help support people with prayer and Bible reading, if they so wish. We have a great privilege to hear about people’s lives and work. This often leads onto discussions about faith and prayer. For me it is through my faith that I find I can help to offer peace and comfort at times of great difficulty.
Since March, along with many of the volunteers, we have been ‘laid off’ to reduce the footfall into the Hospice with the increased danger that poses of bringing Covid into the Hospice. As the chaplaincy duties then fell solely upon Eddy Inglis, I have had the pleasure to cover Eddy in the weeks that he has taken a break. The work is much more difficult with the wearing of masks, having to socially distance and being unable to hold someone’s hand or give a hug when needed. It has been a great pleasure to catch up with the staff each time.
It has been a difficult time for patients and families, as restrictions have had to be placed on numbers of visitors allowed access to the ward and Masks and PPE have had to be worn. For staff, the additional difficulties of maintaining safety for themselves and the patients has made it frustrating, especially as again physical contact must be kept to a minimum. Hugs and hand holding are out a present.
The staff have done a great job in ensuring the Hospice gives the required care and support in a safe manner. At times when full PPE has to be put on before entering a patient and taken off again after the visit, even if that is only to take in a drink, makes the work time consuming and requires great effort. But the staff have risen to the challenge.
Under normal circumstances I'm heavily involved with the Men's Group, which helps to support our male day patients with chronic conditions where we talk about many and varied subjects and even have the odd day out. Since we can't meet face to face at the moment we're continuing to meet virtually on Zoom and have all had to become a bit more tech savvy!
Thank you to all the staff who have done a great work during these difficult times.
God bless, David.