Rowcroft Hospice has expressed its heartfelt thanks to the South Devon community for its unwavering support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Torquay-based charity — which cares for nearly 2500 local people each year — has been overwhelmed with messages of kindness and appreciation for Rowcroft’s care teams on the frontline.
Rowcroft is so thankful for all the financial support received to enable its teams to continue caring for local people in its hospice in Torquay, and in patients’ own homes across 300 square miles of South Devon.
“Through the darkness of this pandemic, we are so grateful to our local community which has shone bright for us throughout,” says Rowcroft Hospice’s CEO Mark Hawkins. “Thanks to this amazing support, we have been able to continue providing our expert care to people with life-limiting illnesses and their families. Over the last four months, our wonderful community has shown unbelievable concern and compassion and have supported us in so many diverse ways — through donations, fundraising, volunteering, and through all the fabulous acts of kind-heartedness and the endless messages of encouragement. Words are not enough to describe how eternally thankful we are.
“We have been bowled over by so many incredible acts of kindness, from local businesses donating a range of services and products such as face masks and cakes for our care teams, to individuals who have moved mountains to raise money for us, including through sponsored marathons, head-shaves, walks, virtual discos and rowing marathons.”
Despite the tidal wave of community support that has lifted Rowcroft workers’ spirits and kept its care going, the charity’s overall income has been hit hard by the economic repercussions of the pandemic. The hospice has suffered a significant loss of income caused by the temporary closure of its 16 South Devon shops and cafes, and the cancellation of its mass-participation fundraising events — the charity’s bread and butter.
“As a charity, we rely heavily on the income from our shops and large-scale fundraising events, so this lack of income and the general climate of financial uncertainty is a real concern, especially with a second wave of COVID-19 looming on the horizon,” says Mr Hawkins.
“Although we are gradually re-opening our shops across the region, we know that we’re still very much in the thick of this crisis, and I think this will be the case for some time to come. While we have made steady progress, we know that the path ahead is a difficult one.”
In addition to the loss of income, the charity is facing other challenges. Escalating pressures have been brought to bear on the charity by a greater demand for its Hospice at Home service, due to increased numbers of vulnerable patients shielding at home.
Hospice staff and volunteers have had to adjust to the ‘new normal’ by accommodating a host of new measures, including wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), maintaining social distancing where possible, ensuring that workplaces are COVID-Secure, and where appropriate embracing the innovative AccuRX video consultation platform to care for patients and families.
“Many of our patients are in the extremely vulnerable category and are shielding from COVID-19, so any visitors into their homes pose an element of risk for them,” explains Dr Gill Horne, Rowcroft’s Director of Patient Care.
“AccuRX is proving highly successful in enabling us to carry out virtual home visits to care for our patients, without any risk to them at all. Where appropriate, we are of course still visiting the homes of patients and families and those who cannot connect virtually.”
The ‘new normal’ has meant getting to grips with technology in many different ways. For example, Rowcroft has held online funeral services where families were unable to gather; and helped patients in its Inpatient Unit to use iPads and mobile phones to connect with shielding family members. One patient listened to soothing poetry, read by his wife over the phone, while he peacefully passed away in Rowcroft’s Inpatient Unit. Despite the difficult circumstances, Rowcroft is doing whatever it takes to keep patients and their loved ones united.
Throughout the crisis, the charity has been continuing to offer bereavement support and counselling, and has set up a telephone helpline to provide listening support to patients and families affected by COVID-19. This helpline is also available for health and social care professionals struggling with any aspect of COVID-19.
Known locally as an expert authority on end-of-life care, Rowcroft cares for all people with life-limiting illness, regardless of background, circumstance or diagnosis, including those with COVID-19.
Rowcroft’s care has been rated as ‘outstanding’ (the highest possible rating) by the Care Quality Commission. The charity’s central philosophy is to put the patients’ choices at the centre of their end-of-life care: this means helping patients to die well, with the dignity and respect that everyone deserves. Most patients, given the choice, prefer to die peacefully at home surrounded by the people, place and things they love; Rowcroft helps them to achieve this.
For further details about Rowcroft Hospice, please see: www.rowcrofthospice.org.uk or call 01803 210800.
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