Helping families with loved ones in care homes

Families with loved ones in Milton Keynes care homes are being encouraged to take advantage of a free support service to help them cope with feelings of separation, isolation or loss during Covid-19 pandemic. The service, run by Willen Hospice, has been funded by Milton Keynes Council, who have recognised the need to help families at this difficult time.

The experienced Hospice team can offer practical and emotional support in a range of ways, including a telephone listening service, informal virtual coffee and chat groups, or individual counselling sessions.

With pandemic related restrictions once again tightening across the UK, the hospice and council, are keen to make sure local people know that there is someone there for people if they need to talk. The service is available for anyone involved with a care home, whether they were affected during the first wave of the pandemic, or now.

Hospice Chief Executive Peta Wilkinson, said: “It’s been more than six months since the pandemic took hold, and we know that the lockdown measures imposed meant drastic changes for care homes. The council has reacted in a timely and appropriate way by asking us to offer our expertise in supporting families and counselling to a wider group who may be suffering due to what they’ve experienced during this unprecedented time.

“The way people cope with emotions is very individual, and no one person will deal with it in the same way. The pandemic has created an extraordinary situation and it is fine to seek out help. So whether you just want someone to talk to, or need a bit more support during this difficult time, we can help. Our counsellors are highly trained and our service is completely confidential and personalised to an individual’s needs.”

Support is also available to help people to cope with grief. A helpful webpage has been set up so people can browse advice on how to cope with feelings of loss, and pay tribute to loved ones while funerals are restricted. ‘GriefChat’ is available between 9am and 9pm every day for those who would prefer to chat using a live messenger service about how they are feeling.

All care homes in Milton Keynes are run by private companies, charities, and independent organisations.  During the pandemic, Milton Keynes Council has shared more than £2m of funding with care homes and put in significant work to ensure they have access to PPE (personal protective equipment).  MK’s quality of care is ranked above the national average.

Cllr Hannah O’Neill, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to work with Willen Hospice to develop this important service.  It will provide much needed support to families separated from their loved ones during an already difficult time.  As we approach Christmas, Milton Keynes Council is working really hard to offer a range of local services and additional support for individuals and families in Milton Keynes.”

Sarah Haywood – Community Liaison Coordinator at Kents Hill Care Home is supporting the new service. She said: “We were really encouraged to hear about this service. The pandemic has had a real impact on all care homes, our residents and their families. We will certainly be advising loved ones about the Willen Hospice service and encouraging them to use it if they feel the need, either at initial point or further down the line.  We have been passing on the Hospice details and hope that this will give a little reminder of the service available locally”.

Please email or call 01908 663636 to find out more.