IT has always had a special place in people’s hearts. With a sense of being part of the community, the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice is a vibrant centre in Glasgow’s South Side.

On daily basis there are people coming in to use services, undergo physio or families wanting to visit a tribute tree and see the hospice, in the grounds of Bellahouston Park, as a place of solace.

However, when lockdown restrictions were imposed changes had to be made to what the hospice could offer and rapidly.

“We have gone from being a really buzzing, vibrant building, to being almost deserted,” said Gillian Sherwood, director of clinical services at the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice. “Other than inpatients it has been a much quieter building. It just feels a bit different, but there is still a sense of community, the bustle is just not there. We just had to shut down our doors.”

The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice provides care for approximately 1,200 new patients with life limiting or terminal illnesses every year.

The hospice moved to its current site from Calton Place in the heart of the city in 2018. It followed a major fundraising campaign which involved our sister paper the Glasgow Times, through the Brick by Brick Appeal. The £21 million project opened in splendid grounds with open space.

Yesterday we told how Rhona Baillie, chief executive of the PPWH, was backing The Herald’s memorial garden campaign saying it could bring people together.

Mrs Sherwood added: “We have relatives who come back to the hospice for years, decades. In our foyer we have a tribute tree and people just come and sit. I think areas that provide the space for people to sit quietly and remember is important. A tribute garden, moving forward in time, will give people somewhere to remember a loved one. I think the campaign is a lovely idea and is a way of helping to support people through their grief, bereavement and even have an impact on their mental health.

“I remember a family who came every week to sit at the tribute tree. They still liked to feel near to a loved one.”

During lockdown the hospice introduced restrictions around visiting people but given the nature of the end of life care, they found a way to allow some relatives to visit. This was made slightly easier with the design of the hospice as all have single rooms and have their own doors out to individual patio areas and gardens. Infection control precautions now mean that patients are restricted to their own rooms and patios, with their visitors, but these rooms are large with en-suite facilities.

A number of services had to be curtailed during lockdown including a recent initiative, the Living Well Hub, aimed at patients, families and their carers. However, the virtual venture has proved popular and has become its own little online community.

“We have been able to continue to give people help and support through this. One thing we have seen grow here is the peer support. Someone might post in the facebook group they are struggling that day and the response and support from people has been lovely to see," added Mrs Sherwood.

Like many care establishments in the country, the hospice has not been immune to the virus and has had patients who have died, who also tested positive for coronavirus.

Ms Sherwood said: “We have had patients who have been Covid-19 positive within the unit. I would reassure people that our staff are fully trained in the necessary infection control and we absolutely have the correct procedures in place to support this, while keeping our patients, visitors and staff safe. Our clinical team is complemented by an excellent housekeeping team who have the knowledge skills and training to maintain the standards of infection control required ."

"Another significant difference is that staff are dressed in full personal protective equipment which means that our patients do not see the natural smiles of the staff as they care and I know the patients are missing the usual cuddles and closeness with their families that social distancing limits."

The hospice has been particularly supportive of staff during this time some of whom have had to make personal sacrifices in order to care for patients.

Mrs Sherwood added: "We have been here to help staff through this as well and have held regular meetings. Staff have been able to shower before they go home and their uniforms laundered to avoid going home with the risk of contamination. We have a member of staff with a relative who is in a vulnerable group and she had been going home and heading straight to her room just to keep them safe."

Since we launched our campaign last month it has received widespread support including Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as well as cross party support.

We have received offers of help with our vision to create a memorial cairn with a stone representing the lives of every Scot who has died from the virus. Glasgow City Council generously offered a site at Pollok Country Park.

A public fund was also set up with a £50,000 target to build a fitting memorial.

To donate go to: You can also send donations via post to The Herald Garden of Remembrance Campaign, Herald & Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow G32 8FG. Cheques should be made payable to The Herald.

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