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Staff and volunteers at Ashgate Hospicecare are among the recipients of a brand-new award aimed at celebrating the heroes of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Derbyshire Beacon of Hope awards, a collaboration between the High Sheriff and the Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Derbyshire County Council, Derby City Council, and their Leaders, was created to identify and thank groups or individuals who have worked tirelessly to keep communities safe and businesses moving during the pandemic.
The award recognises Ashgate’s role in the COVID-19 response for North Derbyshire. Ashgate is one of the few hospices in the UK who cared for end-of-life COVID patients throughout the pandemic. During the second wave, demand for their support and services was so great that the charity opened a second COVID wing at their 21-bedded Inpatient Unit. During this time, one in three beds were used by COVID patients.
When many healthcare providers stopped patients receiving visitors, Ashgate committed to allowing visitors, including to end-of-life COVID patients. They introduced safety measures, including the provision of PPE to relatives, temperature checks and direct access to the patient’s room.
At the same time as referrals were increasing, Ashgate was facing unprecedented funding challenges due to COVID. Its charity shops had to close in the multiple lockdowns, and fundraising events were scaled back or cancelled. After rallying the support of the local community, Ashgate secured a funding settlement from local health budgets to safeguard care and jobs at a crucial time.
Barbara-Anne Walker, Chief Executive at Ashgate Hospicecare, said: “Ensuring that our local communities have access to the specialist end of life care and support they deserve is something we are fiercely passionate about.
“When the pandemic hit, it was instinctive for us to extend that care, in a safe way, to end of life COVID patients too.
“It is with thanks to every single person here at Ashgate that we were able to do that. From our keyworkers on the frontline to our procurement staff ensuring we had the necessary PPE and the fundraisers who were helping to keep us going.
“It feels very special to be recognised for the vital work we do and our staff, volunteers and all those who support the charity should be proud of this achievement.”