Rowcroft’s achievements over 40 years

How the hospice has blossomed

From the hospice’s small beginnings in 1982, and with the incredible support of our community, Rowcroft has blossomed into South Devon’s specialist palliative care service providing expert care and treatment to adults with life-limiting illnesses, predominantly in their last year of life, and providing advice, support and guidance to other healthcare professionals in the region. In this fascinating blog, Rowcroft’s Director of Care and Strategy Dr Gill Horne reflects on the significant achievements during Rowcroft’s 40 years of care, and she explains how we’ve expanded and adapted our services to meet the growing needs of our local community.

The hospice’s 40-year journey

“Rowcroft has come such a long way since we opened our doors to patients in 1982, and there have been so many significant clinical successes during our 40-year journey. Our care has changed by broadening our breadth of service and developing our wealth of expertise, adding different professional disciplines to enable us to meet the varied needs of our patients and also families too. In terms of what we can offer to patients in their own home, our services have expanded too, and we’ve increased our support to non-cancer patients such as those with heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, motor neurone disease etc. We offer more care at home now than ever before with 80% of our care delivered in patients’ homes.”

From strength to strength over four decades

“I’d like to highlight a few of our important achievements over the last 40 years:

  • We’ve expanded our Community Team from its inception in 1982 to include not only clinical nurse specialists in palliative care, but a full multidisciplinary team including social workers, occupational therapists, complementary therapists, a music therapist, physiotherapists and speciality doctors.
  • We’ve expanded our Bereavement Service by adding a Listening and Support Service (LaSS) which offers pre-bereavement care to families.
  • In 2009, we refurbished the Inpatient Unit to provide infection prevention friendly facilities for patients and a family room for overnight stays.
  • In December 2011, we started a 24/7 Hospice at Home service. Since then, we’ve cared for over 4,000 patients day and night, and we’re now expanding this service further so that we can care for even more patients in their own homes by 2023.
  • We’ve made a number of service improvements, including the development of a heart failure multi-disciplinary team in partnership with the local NHS trust; and we’ve developed a self-management programme for patients and their families experiencing breathlessness and fatigue from non-cancer diseases.
  • We’ve become a training hub for trainee doctors, nurses, social workers and occupational therapists etc. In seeking to improve end-of-life care for all, we partner with other organisations such as the local NHS trust, local GPs, Devon Doctors Ltd, Marie Curie, Devon Partnership Trust and the local Clinical Commissioning Group.
  • In 2010, we introduced an electronic patient record system, and more recently, we’ve carried out patient consultations remotely using video technology where appropriate.”

Expert care

“Crucial to our clinical success is our compassionate and highly skilled multidisciplinary team who work closely together to provide the best possible care for patients and their families who are referred to our services. The team members have the ability to ‘be with’ and support patients with very complex needs, seeking to do what might seem impossible – to make every day the best it can be.”

Hopes for the future

“My hopes for Rowcroft’s future are that we can continue to grow our services so that more people can benefit from the specialist care we are able to provide. We currently care for around one in three people at the end of their lives and would like to be able to provide for two in three. Not everyone will need Rowcroft’s care, but we want to be available and accessible to all those who do. We will continue to expand our Hospice at Home team, as we know that most people prefer to die in their own home, and we are developing a community strategy that will shape our offer to people needing support at home. We have provisional plans to redesign our current Inpatient Unit to ensure it is fit for the future, particularly in light of the recent pandemic. We want to create more single rooms with ceiling hoists, with every room having garden access, more facilities for families, space for enablement assessment prior to discharge, a new multifaith sanctuary etc. We also want to grow and invest in our staff through apprenticeships and further training as well as expand our external education offer.”

A message of thanks

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us through our incredible 40-year journey. It is only because of the remarkable perseverance, dedication and phenomenal hard work of thousands of staff and volunteers, and because of the incredible generosity and support from our local community, that Rowcroft has been able to go from strength to strength over four decades, and we hope that this continues long into the future.”

Read Gill Horne’s other blogs:


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