Caring Billie-Jean 'honoured' to keep patients and families connected during lockdown at King's Mill Hospital
A kind-hearted woman says it has been a honour to have helped families and patients say their final farewells and cope with the heartache of separation during the pandemic at King’s Mill Hospital.
Billie-Jean Poole made hundreds of connections between patients and families, including supporting people saying their final goodbyes to loved ones, at the height of the crisis in the face of strict visiting restrictions.
She joined Sherwood Forest Hospitals – the trust which runs King’s Mill – in December as a part-time co-ordinator and facilitator with the family liaison service, spending time building relationships and sharing special and sometimes heart-breaking moments with patients.
“When I first joined the service, Sherwood’s hospitals could not allow any visitors,” said Billie-Jean. “This was obviously a tough, but necessary decision to ensure our patients, their families and colleagues stayed safe.
"Being able be part of heart-warming, emotional and much-needed connections between patients and their families when reading a letter, or helping organise a phone call was truly special. I feel very honoured to have been able to support so many patients and families.
“My time as a family liaison facilitator was spent both on the wards with patients and clinical colleagues, and also in the office.
"Being able to watch and be part of heart-warming, emotional and much-needed connections between patients and their families when reading a letter, or helping organise a phone call was truly special. I feel very honoured to have been able to support so many patients and families.”
For one patient whose health deteriorated suddenly, the team Billie-Jean was a part of arranged a phone call so family members could say their ‘goodbyes’ to their mum.
The service later received a thank you from the family, saying ‘If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have heard my mum say I love you for the last time. I owe you for the rest of my life’.
“During restricted visiting, there was a need for a support system to help patients get in touch with their loved ones, freeing up the time of our healthcare assistants, nurses, doctors and clinical colleagues,” said Billie-Jean.
“The time I spent on the wards gave me so much insight into how busy our clinical colleagues are, but also how necessary it is for our patients to have interaction with their families.
“I noticed a big improvement in patients’ mental wellbeing and the easing of anxiety for the family members when facilitators would visit the wards.”
Dorian Harrison, the son of recently discharged stroke patient Barbara, 87, received regular updates about his mother who was a patient from February to March.
“Not being able to visit mum was so hard, and worrying at times for our family, but we understood it for her safety and those of other poorly patients, the people who work for the trust and also friends and family members,” he said.
“Knowing that Sherwood had the family liaison service was a relief; we could keep in contact with mum, and organise video calls with family members. Billie-Jean was fantastic. We’re all extremely grateful for the work of the service."
From Tuesday June 1, friends and family members of patients will be able to contact the service from 8am-5pm (excluding bank holidays) via 01623 676189 or by emailing [email protected]