05 February 2021

Rennie Grove nurses battle snowy winter conditions to ensure care continues

The snowy weather​ in January has meant that many Rennie Grove Hospice Care nurses had to abandon their cars and make vital patient visits in Bucks and west Herts on foot.

Our hospice at home nurses provide care for people with life-limiting illnesses in their own homes and this has continued throughout the pandemic. Our visists are often the difference between patients being able to stay at home with their loved ones or being admitted to hospital.

Mary Richardson - a hospice at home nurse in the snow over the weekend

Restrictions caused by the pandemic and the demand on the NHS have meant that the our hospice at home teams are caring for more patients than ever before, making it even more important that visits could go ahead.

Rennie Grove’s Director of Nursing and Patient Services, Sam Howard, was the manager on call over the weekend. She said: “We’re very proud that visits were able to go ahead despite the weather conditions. Every winter we face a number of challenges, but this year has been like no other.

“We have a high patient caseload, and our nurses are working really hard to provide our care. A snow day for most people is a fun day out. But for us and many of our patients, it represents a real challenge.”

Beth Spooner, the Clinical Operational Manager for Herts, said: “In these conditions all nurses are advised to carry extra clothing, a shovel and some snacks and water in the car as well as the all-important phone charger.”

Mary Richardson, a hospice at home nurse in ​our St Albans team who was working on Sunday, had to leave her car at the bottom of a hill and walk home as the conditions were too difficult to drive in. 

Zoe Berkeley, a hospice at home nurse in ​our south Bucks team, also had to abandon her car when it would not drive up a snowy hill.

​We called on the help of volunteer 4x4 drivers to help the night staff on Sunday night when ice made conditions even more difficult, with all drivers maintaining safety by wearing facemasks in the car.

Sam Howard said: “Without these volunteers, visits on Sunday night would have been impossible, and we’d like to thank them and all the nurses for their dedication to providing the vital care our patients need, whatever the weather.”