During the last lockdown, all the Princess Alice Hospice shops were closed and Amy, usually a Retail Administrator, was seconded to the position of Welcomer for visitors to the Hospice In Patient Unit (IPU), where she also facilitated virtual visiting. When our shops were able to reopen again in April, she returned back to her usual role.

Q. What does the role of IPU Welcomer involve?

Amy, IPU welcomerI would initially receive information about an incoming patient’s family and the reason for their admission. Some come in for terminal care and others for symptom control, or because of a psycho-social crisis. I would call the family to give them an overview of visiting and to inform them that we care for people with COVID and some people come here for their isolation period before returning home or to the nursing home. I would welcome visitors when they arrived and show them how to put on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) then walk them to the patient’s room. I’d also explain how to remove PPE at the end of their visit and how to call for assistance. For those unable to visit, I’d help arrange virtual visits via Zoom or WhatsApp video calls and make sure a nurse was free to support the patient – it’s wonderful we can offer different ways for families to stay in touch at such difficult moments.

Q. What did you enjoyed most about your secondment?

It was a real insight into the amazing work our In Patient Unit team does. I hope I eased some of the families’ fears by being a friendly face, even if that’s from behind a mask. It felt like a privilege to help families during the pandemic. I’m very grateful that I was given the opportunity to see a snap shot of the wonderful care that our clinical team provides.

Q. Have there been any aspects of the role that you’ve found hard?

At times it could be a highly emotive situation when families were coming in to say their final goodbyes and there were limits on bedside visitor numbers. Our staff always try their best to accommodate requests but this can sometimes be difficult, logistically, so it’s trying to manage expectations of the family and patient. I felt honoured to be considered for the role. I love to challenge myself, I enjoy using my skills in different scenarios and found that I have other skills I didn’t know I had.

A social distancing notice in a Princess Alice Hospice shopQ. What are your challenges back in Retail?

Being back in Retail HQ I’ve been focusing on helping shops get back up and running as soon as possible. We are now quite used to doing it after 3 lock down closures and re-openings.  We’ve had such great feedback from customers who are glad to see our doors are back open. To us in the office it doesn’t feel like we’ve been away. There are still issues with steamers, requests for moving of stock and general day to day running of 46 shops.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your Retail role?

I enjoy charity retail as you know the profit isn’t going to a big corporation – it’s going to where it matters. Now more than ever people are becoming more conscious of their shopping habits. Charity retailing is a big part of this. Making sure items don’t automatically go to landfill. With the charity shops being involved ‘Fast Fashion’ is starting to slow down a bit.



Amy, IPU welcomer, having her photo taken

Amy featured in our most recent edition of in touch magazine.