1st May 2022

    Information on COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

    Pilgrims Hospices is very closely monitoring the situation concerning the COVID-19 virus and we are in close contact with Public Health England and the NHS. We have put in place risk assessments and contingency planning and are guided by the public health information we are receiving.

    We continue to review not only how we operate now but also how we will operate over the coming weeks and months. We want to ensure that we are prepared so that we continue to support as many patients, families and carers as possible, either directly or indirectly, over the coming months.

    If you’d like to donate to Pilgrims Hospices at this time, click here for information about our Still Here, Still Caring appeal.

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    Stepping Stones

    Stepping Stones face-to-face groups are now back up and running.

    Click here to find out more and book.

    What to do if you are concerned about yourself or someone close during the COVID-19 outbreak

    Aside from government advice, Pilgrims would advise taking this time to think about the future and what is important to you and those close to you.

    You may find these resources useful:

    This guidance is something all local hospitals, GPs, ambulance services and community nursing teams, as well as Pilgrims, are using. It gives you the opportunity to make plans should you or someone close to you become ill, especially with coronavirus. We will talk to you about this when we make contact to review how you are getting on.

    For up to date information on COVID-19, please see the following:

    Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

    Jon Sillett – Deputy CEO and Head of Hospice Services (non-clinical)

    10th May 2021

    Nursing at Pilgrims: What it has meant to lead through a pandemic

    To celebrate Nurses’ Day 2021, we spoke to Kate White, Head of Nursing at Pilgrims Hospices, about how she and her team have risen to the challenges posed by COVID-19.

    Although it has been a difficult year, Pilgrims nurses have continued to provide vital, compassionate and holistic end-of-life care to people across east Kent. The pandemic has also provided opportunities to strengthen nursing practices, which will have a lasting, positive impact on future hospice care.

    How have nursing practices and patient care at Pilgrims changed since the COVID-19 pandemic began?

    The pandemic has brought infection control and prevention into sharp focus. The care we give at Pilgrims has remained at the highest standard, but having to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) requires us to take more time preparing to give care rather than being able to be spontaneous.

    At the start of the pandemic the policies, procedures and systems that we’re so accustomed to were changing rapidly, sometimes several times a day. It was often hard to keep up, but Pilgrims staff embraced what was needed and continued to provide excellent patient-centred care.

    Pilgrims nursing team L-R: Kate White, Steve Allwright, Laura Gooch, Sheila Moorhead, Carol Lightfoot, Michelle Swann, Sam Waters and Donna Shanahan


    What have been some of the challenges presented by COVID-19 and how have Pilgrims nurses overcome them?

    The biggest challenges relate to our everyday communication; talking to patients whilst wearing a mask takes away the personal touch and the non-verbal communication a smile can convey. Our community team had to adapt to talking to patients over the phone rather than face-to-face visiting. This can be very difficult for both patients and staff, especially when discussing sensitive issues; it doesn’t come naturally to everyone, does it?

    Nothing will ever replace the closeness of a loved one, but we have tried to offer reassurance and comfort in these very difficult times.


    We also had to find other ways of communicating with relatives, as our visitors policy restricted who could come into the hospices in order to ensure we safeguarded our extremely vulnerable patients and our staff, who were keeping hospice services going. It has been very distressing for so many, but we have used technology to bridge the gap and help enable people to keep in touch.

    We’ve also used the Matching Hearts project, where the patient has one crocheted heart and we give the other to the family to try to help them feel connected.

    Nothing will ever replace the closeness of a loved one, but we have tried to offer reassurance and comfort in these very difficult times.

    Have any positives come out of the pandemic?

    As a team we’ve proved our ability to change at a rapid pace when required, to find new and inventive ways of working.

    Those of us who have been in healthcare for a long time have never experienced such a coming together of so many providers, and this has had a lasting and positive impact on patient care and service delivery.


    There has also been some brilliant collaborating with our healthcare colleagues in the wider community including East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, Kent Community Trust, Kent County Council and primary care services. We shared issues around capacity, PPE supplies and staffing, plus anything else we were able to help each other with. It also provided a chance to update everyone on our current situation; we called in every day, seven days a week, to ensure our patients had the best care and our staff had the best support. Pilgrims was the only charity to join this call, and from this we became involved in supporting nursing homes by teaching their staff how to use PPE.

    Those of us who have been in healthcare for a long time have never experienced such a coming together of so many providers, and this has had a lasting and positive impact on patient care and service delivery.

    Kate White, Head of Nursing at Pilgrims Hospices, with nurse Debbie Todd. The artwork is displayed on the ward at the Canterbury hospice. The hands are a show of unity, strength and teamwork. Staff put one hand on the paper on each shift they came in for, choosing the colour that represented how they felt. It reflects the rainbows painted by children during the pandemic to thank key workers.


    What does a post-COVID-19 future look like at Pilgrims, and how will Pilgrims nurses lead patient care within it?

    We’re told that the pandemic will be around for a while yet, so we will continue to provide the best infection control and prevention we can. Our infection control team, led with the expertise and dedication of nurse Debbie Todd, will ensure we are kept up to date with all current guidelines and practices. I have no doubt we will continue to deliver high quality, holistic care to our patients and their families, whatever the situation is, to the best of our ability.

    Each year Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to over 2,500 people in east Kent who are coming to terms with an illness that sadly cannot be cured. The charity support patients to live life as well as possible until the very end, free from pain and distress.

    23rd March 2020

    Community spirit helps to fill Pilgrims Hospices kitchens

    Local suppliers, businesses, restaurants and manufacturers have all helped Pilgrims to keep the kitchens stocked with fresh produce, allowing the hospices to offer a full menu to patients and staff. While many local services have been postponed in order to stem the flow of the Coronavirus, business owners and suppliers have generously thought of Pilgrims Hospices; offering their excess fresh produce to be utilised in the charity’s kitchens.

    The catering teams across Pilgrims Hospices wish to thank the local community for their amazingly generous donations which have allowed the hospices to provide a consistently full and varied menu at the hospices in Ashford, Canterbury and Thanet.

    Ian Ashton, Catering Manager for the hospices said: “The local community spirit has truly shone through, we are immensely grateful for everyone’s support.

    “We are delighted to say, through so many generous donations, Pilgrims Hospices has now fully stocked fridges and our cold stores are currently at capacity with fresh produce.”

    “The east Kent community is always extremely generous and our relationships with businesses that have extra capacity play an important role in how our catering budget and kitchens are managed.

    The local community spirit has truly shone through, we are immensely grateful for everyone’s support.

    Ian Ashton, Pilgrims Hospices Catering Manager

    “As we have no further storage capacity we will have to refuse any further donations for the immediate future.  However, if you would like to share produce with us in the future, we will be delighted to hear from you.”

    Thank you everyone for supporting Pilgrims Hospices catering team with your generous offers.

    If your business would like to support us with produce in the future, please contact Ian Ashton, Pilgrims Catering Manager by emailing ian.ashton@pilgrimshospices.org.

    Care is provided from three hospice sites in Ashford, Canterbury and Thanet as well as in patients’ own homes.  To offer these services to patients and their families the charity must raise £11 million each year from the generous local community.

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