Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance for Patients, Carers, Families, Staff and Volunteers

Last updated: 23 March 2020

The symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) may be more severe in people with weakened immune systems, older people and those with long term conditions.

We care for people with advanced life-limiting illnesses so it is important that we take all reasonable steps to protect the wellbeing of those using our services, as well as those working and volunteering for St Margaret's Hospice Care.

We are carefully monitoring the changing situation and reviewing the guidelines issued by Public Health England. We are endeavouring to keep our staff and volunteers up to date with the relevant information and would advise everyone to continue to visit the Government website.

Our Executive Team are meeting regularly to consider necessary precautionary steps to minimise the risk of infection with Coronavirus (COVID-19) for patients, families, carers, staff, volunteers and visitors to our hospice hubs.

To protect our patients and their families as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, St Margaret’s Hospice Care has taken the considered decision to suspend all day hospice services and reduce outpatient services in Taunton and Yeovil, with effect from Tuesday 17 March 2020.

Over the next week, patients who are due to attend appointments will be contacted individually to assess their needs and plan how we will facilitate those needs over the coming weeks. We will continue to have regular contact with anyone who was due to attend outpatient appointments during this time.

If you are receiving support from any St Margaret’s Hospice Care services, you will be contacted by a member of the hospice team to notify you of how the changes will affect you.

The symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) may be more severe in people with weakened immune systems, older people and those with long term conditions. This action has been taken to safeguard our most vulnerable patients and the staff and volunteers caring for them.

We continue to offer support to patients and families via our 24-hour adviceline on 01823 333822 or 01935 709480 and our Community Team continue to work across the county.

Our In-patient Unit in Taunton remains open - please see below for advice for visitors.

St Margaret’s Hospice Care is in regular contact with our health service partners in Somerset and Hospice UK, and continues to monitor the situation closely.

For the latest information regarding Coronavirus, please visit:

General Visiting:

In light of recent government guidance and in the interest of continuing our inpatient services whilst ensuring infection risks are kept to a minimum, we are now advising that patient visitors should be kept to ONE visitor at any one time, limited to close family and friends.

There may be some exceptions to this (for example children of patients) please seek further advice from ward staff.

It would help us greatly if family members were able to co-ordinate amongst themselves which friends and family members visit at what time. We would also ask that they separate their visits sufficiently to avoid groups of people waiting within any area of the hospice.

Please keep visits to as short a time as possible, preferably to 1 hour in line with NHS guidance.

Please try to use alternative means to communicate where possible (Skype, Facetime etc), and we will endeavour to facilitate this.


Symptomatic Relatives:

Our advice to any friend or family member who develops symptoms of COVID-19 (persistent cough or temperature) would be NOT to visit patients on the IPU. This will also apply to anyone who is isolating due to contact with a symptomatic individual.

However, if visiting is essential for compassionate reasons, we would advise them to speak to a member of staff on the inpatient unit to see if special provision can be made, preferably by phone.

If visitors experiencing symptoms of the virus arrive at the hospice without informing anyone, they may be turned away.


Symptomatic Patients:

If a patient is suspected of having the virus full protective equipment will need to be worn by all staff and visitors at all times. It will be necessary to continue this for 7 days from the onset of symptoms.

Many patients develop a high temperature as part of their condition when becoming more unwell. Unfortunately as this is a symptom of the virus we will still need to take full precautions while the cause of the temperature remains uncertain.

We have a duty to protect all of the patients in our hospice from undue risk and to ensure the safety of our staff who we are relying on to provide 24hr care for those most vulnerable people.

Many thanks for your support with these measures.

In light of the rising number of Coronavirus cases in the UK, and latest advice from the Government, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone all our fundraising events until the end of May - including the Great Somerset Cycle, our Yeovil Fete and the Colour Run in Taunton.

While we recognise that many people will be disappointed that these eagerly anticipated events won’t be happening as planned, the health and welfare of our patients, their families, as well as staff, volunteers and supporters is our overriding concern.

We are monitoring the situation closely and will aim to reschedule the Great Somerset Cycle, Yeovil Fete and Taunton Colour Run later this year, when it is safe to do so. We will be in touch with everyone who has already booked a place with details of the new date as soon as this is confirmed, with further instructions. Please bear with us as we deal with enquiries at this busy time. 

The current disruption to our programme of fundraising events will, of course, have a financial impact on St Margaret’s Hospice Care. During these difficult times, we are especially grateful to our loyal supporters for enabling us to continue caring for people across Somerset who are facing a life-limiting illness.

If you would like to make a donation, please visit

Any supporters fundraising on behalf, or in aid, of St Margaret’s and organising events where groups of people are coming together should follow the official advice via the links below.

Following further Government advice, and our need to protect the health and wellbeing of all our staff and volunteers, we wanted to let you know the following:

We are requiring all volunteers who are over the age of 70 to step back, for the time being, from their volunteer role and follow the advice from the government.

Volunteers who are under 70 and are a carer or who have an underlying health condition should also step back from their volunteer role, for the time being, and follow Government advice.

Where a volunteer is under 70, fit and well and willing to continue to support the Hospice in their current role, or help support other services, please contact your volunteer co-ordinator or shop manager.

Community support groups and community visits have been suspended and replaced, where possible, with phone calls.  Please contact your co-ordinator for further information or if you have any questions.

This is an ongoing situation and may change quickly.  If you have any questions please contact your volunteer co-ordinator or shop manager.

Your help and support during these uncertain times is very much appreciated.

With effect from Monday 23 March, all St Margaret’s Hospice Care shops across Somerset are temporarily closed until further notice.

The health of our staff, volunteers, customers and our wider community is our paramount concern, and it is essential that we all do everything we can to stop the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

We hope to reopen our shops as soon as we are able to do so.

During this temporary closure, we would ask all our supporters not to leave donated items outside our shops, as we do not want your valued donations to be lost or damaged. Please hold on to your donated items and we will be very happy to receive them once we are up and running again, as they make such a difference to the work we are able to do in your community and across Somerset.

We would like to thank all our customers and donors for their support, as you are enabling us to continue caring for people across Somerset who are facing a life-limiting illness in these difficult times.

If you would like to continue supporting St Margaret’s Hospice Care in other ways while our shops are closed, you can find out more by clicking here.


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Please follow these links for the latest information about Coronavirus:

UK Government: Coronavirus (COVID-19) - latest information and advice

NHS: Overview – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Public Health England: Coronavirus (COVID-19) - what you need to know



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