“When I became a nurse, I never envisioned working through a pandemic," says Major Fiona Mugford, a Salvation Army officer who, along with her husband, leads our church in Guisborough, North Yorkshire, while also using her skills as a registered nurse by working in her local hospice.
“Every interaction I have with people demonstrates God's love - it's part of my calling as a minister and as a nurse."
During the pandemic, patients have been unable to move around the hospice ward and nurses attend rooms for specific tasks so there has been less social interaction.
Fiona continues: “At the hospice, patients are able to express and talk through their fears, which was important even before the pandemic. Our patients haven't had as much social contact with us and only limited contact with their family, so there is much more time to sit and think and fear does take hold quicker. Phone and computer access helps alleviate this, but it isn't the same.
"When we know a patient is approaching the end of their life, we allow the family to visit longer – it's all about assessing the risks and adjusting what we do. We are doing our best under challenging situations."
Face masks are worn by the staff from the start to the end of the shift, every time they enter a patient's room they wear full PPE and remove it as they leave, remembering to clean their hands with alcohol gel on the way out and then going straight to wash their hands.
Fiona adds: “The equipment makes us extremely hot and my glasses steam up every time I talk while wearing the mask, making it interesting to view readings and figures, but caring for people's loved ones during their last days while protecting them from potential COVID-19 infection is vital and spares them additional agony.
“I can honestly say I have never been afraid to work at the hospice. I've never felt fearful of contracting the virus. I know I have a God who sustains me through all situations and will always be with me. My work colleagues know I'm an officer and we've been able to share together, to laugh together, to question together and to talk about faith when maybe they hadn't thought about it before."