Great Britain

Hospice counsellors see rise in demand since the arrival of Covid

The impact of grief has been even greater because of Covid say St Johns Hospice counsellors. Picture: Polly Hancock

The impact of grief has been even greater because of Covid say St Johns Hospice counsellors. Picture: Polly Hancock

Polly Hancock

Bereavement counsellors at St John’s Hospice have seen an increased demand on their services since the start of the Covid pandemic.

The impact of grief has been even greater because of Covid say St Johns Hospice counsellors. Pictured is social worker Maria Colimao with artwork created by bereaved children. Picture: Polly HancockThe impact of grief has been even greater because of Covid say St Johns Hospice counsellors. Pictured is social worker Maria Colimao with artwork created by bereaved children. Picture: Polly Hancock

The team of four experienced social workers and counsellors say the impact of grief on relatives has been greater due to lockdown restrictions and the challenges of saying a proper goodbye.

“People haven’t been able to say a goodbye in the way they would have done before Covid,” said Ingrid Defoe, a St John’s Hospice counsellor and a social worker for 25 years-plus.

“For some, it has been a struggle to make amends before the end. They haven’t been able to sit beside the bedside and talk to their loved ones.

“And the impact of grief is even greater due to the isolation and not being able to see friends and family.”

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The hospice in St John’s Wood offers free counselling to all family members of patients, including children. Counselling is currently given over the phone or via Zoom rather than the usual face-to-face sessions within the family home or at the hospice itself.

Since the start of the pandemic, its bereavement team has seen an increase in the number of referrals to its counselling service and more complex cases as relatives struggle with grief in the middle of Covid restrictions.

The greater investment in bereavement counselling this year, which includes an expansion of its young adult and children service, comes at a time when hospice funds have been severely reduced.

The cancellation of many fundraising events and the closure of its two charity shops has led to a £1.3m shortfall predicted by the end of this year. Donations can be made via www.stjohnshospice.org.uk or by calling 020 7806 4040 and asking for the fundraising team. Every £20 pays for a visit from a bereavement counsellor to support a family member and £50 will pay for three hours of one to one care for a patient.

The St John’s Hospice Christmas card collection is available online at https://www.stjohnshospice.org.uk/st-johns-hospice-christmas-cards-2020/ priced at £3.50 for a pack of 10. The four designs include a snowy garden, festive treats, a nativity scene chosen by hospice chaplain Father Hugh, and one featuring a dachshund as that was the most popular breed entered into the hospice’s virtual dog show earlier this year.

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