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How we used online technology to support grieving care home staff

A SHEFFIELD care home turned to St Luke’s for vital support as it faced the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chatsworth Grange Care Home in Intake was badly hit by Coronavirus, with both residents and staff succumbing to the infection.

But with strict lockdown regulations in place, staff were unable to say their proper goodbyes to the residents they cared for.

That’s when they turned to the team at St Luke’s to help them create a unique online opportunity to share memories and come to terms with the pandemic.

Chatsworth Grange is one of the many homes across the city that has been taking part in the hospice’s pioneering Project ECHO, an online tele-mentoring network that enables the delivery of training and education from a specialist hub centre to multiple sites.

As Coronavirus began to take its hold on Sheffield, it became increasingly clear that Project ECHO could build an even stronger network of support, providing specially tailored COVID-19 advice to care homes, nursing homes and residential homes.

Chatsworth Grange manager Bev Furniss spoke to our Senior Sister and Project ECHO Team Lead Lynne Ghasemi about the impact of the virus on morale in the home.

And Lynne then turned to our chaplain Mike Reeder, who used the Project ECHO technology to create a special Time for Reflection service that gave Chatsworth Grange time to finally share memories in a special online ceremony and say their farewells to residents they had lost.

“It has been a very distressing time for all the staff who get to know residents very well and will often attend funerals when one of our residents dies,” said Bev.

“With the lockdown and restrictions and the fact that some staff were ill themselves that was no longer possible and there were some real feelings of guilt and loss that we simply had no way of addressing.”

The Time for Reflection online celebration featured photographs of all the residents who had been lost over the past three months and gave staff who gathered at the home a chance to share memories, while also lighting individual candles in a special act of remembrance.

Linking up via computer, hospice chaplain Mike then led prayers and gave a special address.

“There was a lot of love in the room and quite a lot of tears as well as some smiles,” said Bev.

“It was a lovely event, it was peaceful and it was a time for reflection, which is what we all needed.

“The staff all said afterwards how much it had helped them because they had not been able to attend funerals and in some cases had not been able to be there when the people they cared for were dying.

“It was absolutely fantastic and we’d like to thank everybody at St Luke’s who made it possible.”