JOANNA Longden ­– community services manager at Manorlands – has spoken about the huge impact felt from the coronavirus pandemic at the Oxenhope Sue Ryder hospice.

Joanna, who has worked at Manorlands for 31 years, said it had been the most challenging few months of her career.

At the hospice she manages a team of eight clinical nurse specialists.

“It wasn’t necessarily the changes we had to make at the start of the pandemic that were the most challenging part – it was the speed at which they were needed and the impact they were having,” she said.

“Within the community team, we had to completely change the way we worked in about ten days.

“We had to get to grips with technology and almost overnight we stopped face-to-face visits and transitioned to doing reviews and follow-ups via Zoom.

“We were a bit apprehensive about using Zoom, as you’re so used to sitting by the side of the patient. When you’re having really difficult conversations normally you’re close and you have an arm on their shoulder, or your hand on their hand, and suddenly you’re sat in front of a screen not being able to do that.

“However, in some cases the technology allowed family members who were in lockdown some distance away to dial-in to calls and support their relatives, which was a positive in a really difficult situation.”

Joanna did her first-ever shift at the hospice when she was asked by an agency if she could provide cover – and fell in love with the place.

“I knew it was where I wanted to work – it was amazing,” she said.

“The nurses put palliative care at the very core of everything they did and the level of care and compassion blew me away - I’d never witnessed anything like it.”

She added: “The best part of my job is the satisfaction you get from being able to make a difference – no matter how big or small. It’s about being able to make a difference at a time that really matters, but it’s also about being part of a bigger team because everyone who works at Sue Ryder Manorlands hospice is there for the same reason and we’re all pushing in the same direction.”

The Sue Ryder charity has been hit hard financially by the lockdown – it is facing a £2 million a month shortfall – and has launched its second urgent fundraising appeal of the year.

Among those giving support is Richard Stuttard.

His father, David, died at Manorlands - which serves Wharfedale - during the height of the pandemic.

“It was a difficult period but I had great support from the hospice team,” said Richard.

“It wasn’t just the medical and practical care, but the incredible emotional care shown to both my dad and to me during an unbelievably sad time. They were all so supportive. They must have been very stressed themselves with everything that was going on but they never let that show.

“In those last few days I had a lot of time to think. I knew I would need something to focus on when the time came and I wanted whatever that was to benefit the hospice too because I just don’t know what we would have done without them.”

So Richard, who turned 40 in June, decided to walk 40 miles in memory of his dad and to raise funds. He trained for the challenge and on the day covered the distance in 16 hours 45 minutes, coining-in £4,200 for the hospice.

“I was really pleased with that amount,” he said. “It meant I could contribute to Manorlands, which has done such a great job, and it distracted me for a good two months. I did hurt afterwards but I recovered pretty quickly and it was a fitting tribute because my dad loved walking.”

To support the appeal, go to