The organisation has responded with a raft of measures to continue to support people through the pandemic.
British Liver Trust is the leading charity for adults with liver disease in the UK. Liver patients in Scotland have access to British Liver Trust’s patient services including over 30 liver disease publications in print, and free to download from our website, further website information, our online peer to peer forum, and nurse-led helpline. We also run over 60 patient support group meetings for Scottish liver patients and their families each year, supporting around 150 people.
Although there are many causes of liver disease, liver patients typically experience stigma and lack of understanding, regardless of the cause of their condition. Many of the patients we work with find it difficult to source/ access the support they really need and struggle with their mental health and wellbeing, in ‘normal’ circumstances. The pandemic has hit them hard and like many charities our services were immediately affected by the lockdown. We had to suspend our face to face groups, leaving many vulnerable people to cope alone.
In response the COVID 19 pandemic, we have adapted how we support and communicate information for anyone affected by liver disease. We have done this by:
- Our website (this link will take you away from our website) has a coronavirus hub which is continually updated with the latest NHS and Government advice surrounding COVID-19. However, individuals are encouraged to consult with your GP/ hospital team if they are worried.
- Our nurse led helpline is available to all patients and family members. Call 0800 652 7330 between 10am and 3pm Monday to Friday (not bank holidays) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Amended patient support in Scotland during COVID 19 restrictions
We have adapted our patient support offering during the developing COVID 19 situation. As we cannot currently run face to face support groups we have had to change the way we are providing support and are now offering virtual support online.
- We will continue to communicate information, offer support & encourage conversation between patients and family members on our Scotland Facebook group (this link will take you away from our website) which can be found by searching for “Scotland support groups British Liver Trust”
- We will be offering virtual support groups online via Zoom. These meetings are to replace the face to face groups. These zoom meetings include a weekly transplant zoom co-facilitated by the liver transplant unit in Edinburgh, genetic/ autoimmune groups, regional groups and carer support meetings.
- We are currently running 3-4 zoom meetings per week and when and how Scotland will be coming safely out of lockdown. These groups also include some fun interactive events such as quizzes, some exercise together motivation and a virtual cuppa.
Many of our patients are shielding for the full 12 weeks as recommended by the Scottish Government. The British Liver Trust is the only third sector organisation providing virtual face to face support for liver patients across Scotland. Patients are facing worries about family, finances, housing and food – no-one knows how long this will go on for and patients are understandably in need of practical and trustworthy support.
We are currently running 3-5 groups a week, and will continue to do so until at least the end of July, when we will be clearer on what the future holds, and when and how Scotland will be coming safely out of lockdown. Being able to support patients online has really allowed British Liver Trust to further our development work of virtual support which can be used post COVID-19, particularly in the areas of health promotion and educational work using online programmes.
The British Liver Trust is the only third sector organisation providing direct face to face support groups to liver patients through virtual support groups during the pandemic. We work closely with the NHS and healthcare professionals (HCPs) –in promoting and carrying our these support services. Our NHS colleagues are very supportive of our work and continue to refer patients to us during this time. Having the ability to turn a lot of our face to face work virtually, shows determination and flexibility of the thrid sector to support individuals during this pandemic.