Comfort pebbles link hospice with loved ones

The Revd Dr Jill Thornton holding pebbles1The past few months have seen us all adapting to new ways of managing our lives, as we strive to contain the spread of Covid-19. One change that a hospice chaplaincy team in Farnham has made, is to provide “comfort pebbles” to residents and their loved ones.

Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care (PTHC) has a pastoral care and chaplaincy team led by United Reformed Church minister, the Revd Dr Jill Thornton. The team has focussed on the hospice’s in-patient unit, visiting patients every day and offering support calls to families where appropriate.

Among the many services provided by PTHC, families are also offered “comfort pebbles”. One pebble is kept by the patient and the other taken home by their loved one. Vigil candles are also used in this way, from the hospice’s chapel, as a way of keeping a link with the hospice and their loved one.

The Revd Thornton explained: “The comfort pebbles that we are offering to patients and their families come in all shapes and sizes but their purpose is the same – to offer those who are separated from their loved ones a sense of connection during a difficult time.”

PTHC is working with the NHS to help tackle the pandemic head on, with its medical and nursing teams providing 24-hour frontline care to patients and their families, both at the hospice and in patients’ own homes.

The hospice is the only care service of its kind across the whole of west Surrey and part of north-east Hampshire: it serves adult patients, and their families, living with cancer or another advanced or terminal illness (such as heart, lung or neurological disease).

Members of the hospice’s pastoral care and chaplaincy team sit and talk with patients, and read out messages their loved ones have sent while being unable to visit due to coronavirus restrictions.

Patients can talk to friends and relatives on the phone, or by video call, at any time they want. Those with a TV in their room are also offered the opportunity to have their photographs uploaded and shown on a loop through their TV screens.

Reproduced with permission of Vantage Point magazine.

Image: The Revd Dr Jill Thornton. Vantage Point magazine
Published 27 July 2020

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