Marymount University Hospice in Cork say they are overwhelmed by the response to an appeal last week for iPads and tablets to help patients and their families keep in touch.

The specialist care centre which has 44 palliative care beds as well as 64 elderly residential beds has been closed to visitors for almost a fortnight due to the current Covid-19 restrictions.

It has been a difficult time for residents missing face to face contact with their loved ones.

Ger O'Farrell, Assistant Director of Nursing for Palliative Care at Marymount said that they initially tried to limit visitors to one or two but eventually for the safety of patients and for staff, they had to restrict all visitors except in the most exceptional of circumstances.

"It is a decision made with great difficulty but it has to be made for the safety of all and people have been very good about it."

But they know just how difficult it is for everyone including staff who last week good humouredly released their own version of Nancy Griffith's From A Distance to boost morale (link above) which included the lines "....please stay at home for us, please stay safe for us, so we can mind your family....".

Chaplain Daniel Nuzum said they made a public appeal for Ipads after they noticed just how happy one of their patients was having had a Skype call with his wife who couldn't visit in person.

"Relationships at at the core of good pastoral care and we came up with the idea of trying to link in virtually with loved ones and also link in with patients who maybe from time to time be in isolation."

Such was the positive response from the public who sent in new and second hand tablets for patient-use, it was decided to see if they could fundraise to provide Ipads for all of their residents, both those undergoing palliative care, and those in elderly residential care.

A Go Fund Me account set up last Friday has already raised over €33,000 towards the provision of the technology.

Daniel says the response from patients has been very touching.

He spoke of how one 94 year old man's eyes lit up when he got to see and speak with his daughter.

"Nothing replaces face to face contact but being able to bridge that gap and bring her into the room virtually is the next best thing."

Daniel said the money will be used to set up a communication system that will work, not just during this Covid-19 crisis, but far into the future.