With local hospitals such as Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells (MTW) NHS Trust at ‘breaking point’ according to the Medical Director of MTW, some of the critically ill in Kent and Sussex are being transferred to hospitals as far away as Plymouth and Bristol. In response, local charity Hospice in the Weald has made 14 private rooms (out of a total of 25) available immediately for patients at the end of their lives across its Cottage Hospice and In-Patient Ward in Pembury.

Paul Madden, Care Director of Hospice in the Weald, said: “As MTW are admitting more than three or even four times the number of daily COVID cases than the previous peak and people are dying in ambulances waiting for hospital admission across the country. We want people to know that you don’t have to die alone in Hospital, home, or worse. Care from Hospice in the Weald means you can still have visitors - we can offer beds directly to the families of those at the end of their lives, with or without Covid-19.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic the number of deaths has spiked across Kent & Sussex. Hospice in Weald provides care for patients at the end of life and support for their loved ones, free of charge.

With a broad 400 sq mile catchment across Kent and Sussex, this special support system is crucial for those families who have loved ones that do not want to end life alone in a hospital. This is particularly poignant at this time, with many visits to say goodbye restricted due to Covid-19 guidelines.

Julie Northfield is from Mayfield. Her father died under the care of the Hospice team in Five Ashes in the autumn of 2020. She says: “Being at Cottage Hospice made the end of Dad’s life calm, dignified, and as good as it could be. We would have continued to struggle to care for him at home but the Hospice took away that struggle so that we could focus as a family on saying our goodbyes. He could not have had a better death. That makes the grieving process easier too, there are no ‘what ifs’ and you can take comfort in knowing that you have done the best you could have done.”

Cottage Hospice is based at Five Ashes near Mayfield and is the first of its kind in the UK, providing people at the end of their lives with a comfortable, personalised ‘home from home’ - with room for family members and pets to visit, as well as a dedicated nursing team if required.

The beds across Hospice in the Weald are available for anyone living with a terminal illness in Kent and Sussex, to help keep families together during one of the most difficult times of life.

Rob Woolley, Chief Executive at Hospice in The Weald continues: “Never has there been a more pressing time than in the current situation with local hospitals at full capacity and no visitors allowed. Hospice in the Weald caters for people to live out their final days, weeks or months comfortably with their loved ones around them and we have immediate availability that people may not know about. All it takes is one phone call and we can quickly support families and care for their loved ones in comfort.”

Hospice in the Weald has implemented stringent Covid-19 measures to provide as safe a space as possible during the pandemic. The In-Patient Ward at Pembury is taking Covid positive and negative patients, to ensure everyone gets the best possible care. The Cottage Hospice in Five Ashes is being kept as a Covid free site to ensure even the most vulnerable of patients can be kept safe.

To find out more contact the team at Hospice in the Weald directly on 01892 820515, or visit hospiceintheweald.org.uk and use the ‘access care’ button.