From the Royal Marines to Rowcroft

Navigating the challenges with the help of trustee Alex Janzen

Twenty three years in the Royal Marines, and then what? That’s the question that Alex Janzen faced after ending his long career in the military where he had risen to the rank of Colonel and earned an OBE for Operational Planning and Leadership in Afghanistan. With expertise in operational delivery and strategic planning, he knew that his skills were transferrable to other industries – including to a warm and friendly hospice in South Devon where in 2017 we were delighted to welcome him as one of our volunteer trustees!

Alex’s background

“My background is military having spent around 23 years in the Royal Marines. Now, I work with a number of those same people in the medical staffing, security and intelligence sectors. My experience has always been focused on operational delivery around the globe, and strategic planning within the MoD, and latterly the commercialisation of those skills.  That is what I bring to Rowcroft and I hope to use for the benefit of the charity.”

A sense of purpose rediscovered

“When I left the military there was a gap in my life – where did I get that sense of self-worth through being able to give something back to the community.  Rowcroft provided that opportunity for which I’m extremely grateful.  Rowcroft provides nuanced, dedicated, passionate and loving care to people at a critical time in their lives. It provides invaluable support to them and their families and the people that make that happen are a privilege be around – that is an extraordinary and fulfilling thing to be a part of.

“As a hospice trustee, I support an incredible team who cover all the clinical and non-clinical departments that collectively enable the delivery of care to our patients both in the hospice and out in the community.”

Alex’s role as a trustee 

“My trustee role is primarily advisory in support of the executive team but we also like to get our hands dirty when we can, whether that be serving tea to patients or helping with fundraising events. We ensure the accountability of the executive team and because of my background, I take more responsibility around areas of strategic planning to help in defining the future direction of the charity.

“I chair the Panther Committee which is responsible for, amongst many things, the development of the plan for the new specialist dementia nursing home.  Rowcroft only receives a very modest income from the government and around 75% of our income has to come through fundraising within our catchment area.  We are working very hard within the Panther Committee to develop a plan to deliver commercially viable, high quality assisted living which will make Rowcroft more financially independent going forward.”

A true “privilege”

“Being a trustee is an unpaid advisory role that comes with accountability for the performance of the charity.  It is the privilege of working with a dedicated team that is doing something life-defining that provides the satisfaction.  We are accountable for the performance of the charity and we take that very seriously.  We have a duty to the staff and volunteers of Rowcroft, and also to the population of our catchment area who are the beneficiaries of the charity but also upon whom we rely to help fund us.”

A proud and fulfilling role

“I get enormous fulfillment from the role. Whilst I’m not part of the Inpatient Unit care team, or the Hospice at Home and Community teams, or any of the other critical elements that provide or enable the frontline care of our patients, I take comfort in the opportunity to support them in enabling the delivery of that care.  It’s important for us to do something that nourishes the soul a little and Rowcroft does that for me. I’m very proud to be a part of it.”

Challenges facing the hospice

“Rowcroft is an incredible brand and I hope that everyone understands what we do.  We provide adult palliative care through our Inpatient, Community and Hospice at Home services. Care that is bespoke, dedicated, loving and from a team that seemingly has endless passion for what they do and an unwavering commitment to make every day special.  But we live in challenging times – with the cost of living crisis, fundraising has been affected across the entire charitable sector.  Fundraising will always be a challenge and that comes in many forms, whether that be getting increased subsidisation of Rowcroft by the government, or just parity in national funding with hospices in other areas of the UK.”

Alex’s hopes for the future 

 “This is a simple one. I want to see Rowcroft on a self-sustaining financial footing to ensure that it provides the magnificent care that it does now, long into the future.”

You can find out more information about Rowcroft’s trustees here.

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