A knock at the front door signals a lifeline for 91yr old Betty these days - the Treetops ‘Cake and Care’ team have delivered their goodies.

Local charity, Treetops Hospice Care, made the difficult decision to suspend all its weekday Wellbeing Services several weeks ago but wanted to continue to support their most vulnerable patients during the Coronavirus pandemic.

With the Treetops kitchen staff no longer preparing meals on site for patients, they’ve turned the kitchen into a cake-making enterprise, producing tasty homemade treats every day. A team of Treetops staff and volunteers then distribute these along with messages of support, craft activities, puzzles and other useful resources.

Betty, from Kirkhallam, is one of over seventy Treetops patients who are self-isolating due to the growing Coronavirus pandemic. Living alone, with a life-limiting condition, Betty is unable to venture out herself, so the Cake and Care delivery is just one way she can maintain contact with the outside world.

I couldn’t put in to words how delighted I was as I pulled each item out of the bag

Betty, who attended the weekly Get Moving chair-based exercise group at the hospice said:

“I couldn’t put in to words how delighted I was as I pulled each item out of the bag. It was like being a child on Christmas morning. I was especially delighted with the cake. Thank you so much.”

It makes me realise how much Treetops means to so many people

Sarah Corke is amongst the Treetops team delivering the bags and sees first-hand the difference they make:

“On arriving at a patient’s home, first we sanitise our hands with alcohol gel then knock on the door or window, and stand back maintaining social distancing recommendations.

“We always greet people with a smile, have a quick conversation, leave their Cake and Care pack somewhere within reach, and then step back so they can collect it safely. We then watch that they get back inside safely, leave and re-sanitise our hands.

“I feel very privileged to be a part of such a key service. Whilst it’s very different to the usual support we provide, it makes me realise how much Treetops means to so many people.

It’s so good to see the outside world!

“Our patients have told us – ‘We don’t realise what we have until it’s gone’, ‘It’s good to see a different face, all be it at a distance!’, and ‘It’s so good to see the outside world!’

“Everyone has been very grateful for the effort we have gone to, to ensure they are safe and have the things they need.

“One patient told me that they haven’t stepped foot out of their house since they last came to Treetops. One couple explained that they can’t, and won’t, be going anywhere due to them both being very high risk and vulnerable, so they are relying on food to be delivered.

We need to ensure that we support them through this difficult time

“I think it’s vital to continue with this service as we have a duty of care towards our patients who are very vulnerable and we as a team need to ensure that we support them physically and psychologically through this difficult time.”

We want to reach out so our patients know we are still here for them

The Cake and Care initiative was introduced last week as Alison Jordan, Treetops senior staff nurse, explained:

“It is vital for us to support our most vulnerable patients during these challenging times. We want to reduce social isolation and to maintain their links with Treetops.

“We want to lift people’s moods, allow them to enjoy a treat and get some distraction from the terrible situation we find ourselves in today with the COVID 19 pandemic.

“We know we’re a very important part of people’s lives and we want to reach out so our patients know we are still here for them, albeit in a different way from the services we normally provide.”

Treetops is doing all it can to continue to support those in most need. However the charity predicts a huge £1.4m loss in income in the coming months, due to the temporary closure of all their charity shops, and postponement or cancellation of many fundraising events.

An Emergency Appeal has been launched and the hospice is asking for donations to ensure they can continue to provide Hospice at Home end-of-life nursing care throughout the pandemic.

Donations can be made online here.