King’s College Hospital received their first COVID-19 patient on 3 March 2020. With our hospitals right on the front line of the greatest health crisis in generations, we rose to the challenge to provide additional practical, emotional and psychological support to our heroic NHS staff, vulnerable patients and their families.
On 23 March 2020, the day the first national lockdown was announced, we launched King's College Hospital Charity's very first emergency appeal: the Hospital Heroes Appeal.
We were blown away by the response. Our amazing community of supporters came together to support the hospitals, staff and patients in so many different ways. They ran, hopped and skipped, hosted virtual film nights and movie marathons, donated gifts and services, and gave so generously to our appeal. In a matter of months, they raised an astonishing £940,000. We simply cannot say thank you enough.
The intense pressure of the first wave meant that NHS staff were working unplanned back-to-back shifts, often unable to go home for days. Exhausted, they were in desperate need of basics like fresh underwear, shower gel and toothpaste. As well as offering immediate practical help, like distributing food, toiletries and fresh changes of clothes, the overwhelming generosity of our supporters made it possible for us to create a safety net of essential support and wellbeing services.
"Our Hospital Heroes Appeal was a promise to staff and patients – a promise that we would not leave them to face the pandemic alone. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has given so much so willingly – you have helped us keep our promise.”
Gail Scott-Spicer, Chief Executive, King’s College Hospital Charity
Through the Hospital Heroes Appeal, we have been able to:
- Set up wellbeing hubs, which offer a warm and welcoming space away from the wards, for staff to rest and recuperate.
- Provide ongoing emotional and mental health support for staff and patients, including specialist psychological and bereavement services.
- Fund vital research into virtual rehabilitation for COVID-19 survivors.
- Provide funding for the recovery and rehabilitation of intensive care patients to help them recover from the psychological trauma.
- Appoint a full-time occupational therapist to support COVID-19 survivors.
- Deliver healthy and nutritious meals, hot and cold drinks, groceries, clothing and PPE to staff.
- Provide staff with toiletries, specialist hand cream and beauty products for some much-needed self-care.
- Distribute 34 electronic tablets and offer access to mobile phones and charging facilities to help isolated patients connect with their loved ones, who, in return, can receive important face-to-face medical updates from staff.
- Order instant cameras, which enable staff to create photo-ID badges so that patients can still see the reassuring smile behind the PPE.
- Purchase two-way baby monitors to help nurses who are alone for hours at at time caring for a patient in an isolation room communicate with their colleagues.
- Obtain mini whiteboards and pens to facilitate communication between patients and staff.
- Purchase radios, personal DVD players, DVDs, puzzles, games and books to help patients fight boredom and loneliness.
- Supply Home Hampers, containing essential food and toiletries, for COVID patients who would otherwise be returning home to empty cupboards after being discharged from hospital.
- Support the induction of 150 student nurses who worked so hard to graduate early to go straight to work on the front line.
- Create prominent, supersized posters and wall art within the hospitals to share the community’s uplifting messages of support with staff who are working tirelessly to care for others.
"King’s is a truly special place. During the first wave, we were one of the busiest intensive care services, with the sickest patients in the busiest region – yet, with what appears to be some of the best outcomes. What I’m most proud of is being an employee of King’s. Being a doctor, in a job I love, surrounded by extraordinary people who collaboratively achieve extraordinary things every day.”
Dr Tom Best, Clinical Director of Critical Care at King's College Hospital