A VIRTUAL day hospice has been launched in Dorset for patients with life-limiting conditions who may be struggling in lockdown.

Lewis-Manning Hospice Care has started the service in response to the restrictions Covid-19 has placed on patients.

Coronavirus forced the temporary closure of Lewis-Manning's physical day hospice, to ensure the safety of its patients.

Now the virtual day hospice will help people connect with one another and with the hospice's clinical nursing team.

Senior day hospice nurse Mandy Harris said: “As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect so many aspects of our lives, we have had to temporarily close our day hospice to ensure the safety of our patients, while continuing to support them at home.

"However, launching the virtual day hospice is one of the platforms allowing us to continue to provide expert palliative advice and essential support to adults in east Dorset and Purbeck who are living with a life-limiting illness.

"So many of our patients feel socially isolated at this time, so we aim to provide much-needed social interaction for those people who are shielding at home.

"The purpose of these sessions is to promote a sense of wellbeing and a positive approach to living with a life limiting illness, as well as to alleviate the feeling of loneliness that patients may be experiencing and giving clinical advice and support.”

Lewis-Manning Hospice Care, based in Poole, says it was able to launch its virtual service thanks to 'a generous grant' from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by the National Lottery Community Fund.

The online programme will include activities including access to experts specialising in palliative and holistic care; private one-to-one consultation with the nursing team; gentle exercise; mindfulness and relaxation sessions; a chance for peer support through socialising; interactive activities such as quizzes, art and poetry; diversionary therapy and guest speakers.

The virtual day hospice will be via group and one-to-one video sessions, with spaces limited to allow maximum benefit for all participants.

Patients will be part of a 10-week programme initially, which is then reviewed.

There will also be drop-in sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, between 2pm-3.30pm.

Mandy said: “We are incredibly fortunate to have received funding for this project and it has allowed us to purchase tablets to ensure that all of our patients will have access to this service.

"All patients have been issued with a comprehensive tablet IT user guide, with clinical staff and volunteers delivering these to their homes and on hand to guide and support with usage.

"We want to say a huge thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund for making this funding possible.

"Even when restrictions ease and patients are able to come back into the hospice, this service will still continue in order that patients have more choice and can continue to access support in the comfort of their own home.”

For more information contact Lewis-Manning Hospice Care at lewis-manning.org.uk or call 01202 708470 and ask for the day hospice team.