Juliette Coffey, Head of Individual and Family Support

South Bucks Hospice predicts flood of counselling requests after Coronavirus lockdown

South Bucks Hospice has been forced to temporarily close its building during the Coronavirus crisis to protect vulnerable patients and is expecting a deluge of requests for help from the public in the coming months.

Juliette Coffey, Head of Individual and Family Support, says there is likely to be huge demand on the charity’s counselling services after social isolation rules are relaxed.

She said: “A lot of our clients don’t want to talk at the moment because if you are in the middle of a trauma you don’t always want to reach out at that stage. But we are anticipating that demand for our services will peak in the period after lockdown ends.”

But the lockdown has meant that funds for the day hospice have dried up because it has had to temporarily close its shops and several planned fundraising events have had to be cancelled.

“This has meant that the hospice has had to adapt the way it provides its service but has still managed to provide support remotely during the lockdown to many of its patients, including its day patients and those needing counselling,” she said.

Juliette, who heads a ten-strong counselling team which includes many qualified volunteer counsellors, said: “It will take us a while to recover financially from having to temporarily close our shops and the cancellation of community fundraising events. The public getting behind us and remembering us at this difficult time and beyond the lockdown period is so much appreciated and vital to our ability to continue what we do.”

She explained: “People’s emotions often become frozen in the midst of a traumatic situation and it’s only when you come out of the worst of the crisis that you process what you have gone through and want to talk.”

Juliette and her team have been working from their homes and giving free counselling to almost 40 people. Many of their clients are suffering anxiety and distress as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, and some have lost loved ones. Others are cancer patients who are worried about going to hospital for treatment and then catching the potentially-fatal virus.

Meanwhile, South Bucks Hospice staff nurse Karen Turner has also been offering expert telephone support to around 40 patients.

Juliette added: “We are responding now to the people who are alone and in immediate distress, but we anticipate that the peak of our knowledge of those facing extreme anxiety will come as soon as we come out of lockdown. It is only then that there will be time and space to look at suppressed feelings and process together, what people have been through. There is likely to be a flood of requests for our service as soon as routines are re-established and we emerge from pure survival mode.”

To find out more about the counselling service, people can email Juliette at counselling@sbhospice.org.uk

To help South Bucks Hospice continue helping patients and their families, email fundraising@sbhospice.org.uk