Sharing stories at Rowcroft hospice

Helping patients and families to share memories and precious moments together is at the heart of Rowcroft’s patient-centred care. Identical twins Kathy and Christine Wadman enjoy sharing their stories with Rowcroft nurses and were kind enough to share with us their remarkable story of crossing paths with the King himself, Elvis Presley. Christine, who is currently being cared for at Rowcroft’s Inpatient Unit in Torquay shared with us; “It all started when our elder sister signed up Kathy and I to the Elvis Presley Fan Club for our eleventh birthday. We felt like Elvis was someone who we could relate to because he came from a poor background and his music reflected who he was. ”

In 1974, Kathy and Christine travelled across the Atlantic to see Elvis perform at The Hilton, Las Vegas. Dressed in matching white and navy blue evening dresses, the girls managed to charm their way right to the front of the stage meaning they were only inches away from Elvis! After the show, the girls decided to head back to their room when another familiar face joined them in the elevator. “We recognised him immediately from the photos we had seen in the fan club, we were in the lift with Vernon Presley, Elvis’s Dad! He said to us “What are two pretty, little girls like you doing so far away from home?” he couldn’t believe that we had come so far by away by ourselves to see Elvis”, said Christine.

Kathy and Christine then headed south-east to Memphis to visit the gates of Elvis’s home in Graceland. Christine told us “We always dressed in matching outfits, but this time we were dressed in the hippy style of the seventies. As we were taking photos outside the gates of Graceland a driver of a glamorous car beeped at us and waved. We couldn’t believe it, it was Elvis’s dad again and he had remembered us from Vegas!”

Every day neighbour of five years, Jan Dowd gives Kathy a lift to and from the hospice to spend time with Christine. Jan is also a keen volunteer at Rowcroft events and was one of a hundred volunteers who supported Rowcroft in The Male Trail on Saturday 16 March. Christine feels extremely grateful to have Jan’s support. “It takes the worry away for me; it’s nice not having to worry about how my sister is getting home after she has left Rowcroft.”
Kathy added; “I would like to say a special thank you to Jan because she is an angel too. She goes above and beyond to help me spend time with my sister. Some people may think this is only a little thing, but it makes such a big difference to us. To be kind is one of the most powerful things anyone can do”.

The Rowcroft Inpatient Unit provides a special space for reminiscing and creating new memories. Christine and Kathy have been supported by Rowcroft for the past two years. Kathy said, “The nurses at Rowcroft are amazing, they are all angels. One nurse, Karenne, we actually call the angel of the south – you couldn’t find better care anywhere.” Karenne Weaver is a community palliative care team member who has supported the twins for the past two years through home visits. Rowcroft’s approach to patient-centred care has provided Christine with a bespoke level of care at home through occupational therapy as well as symptom management. The community palliative care team as a whole have supported the sisters together through emotional support and music therapy.

This is just one example of what makes hospice care so unique; in addition to physical care, patients emotional, spiritual and psychological needs are also supported. Rowcroft is committed to helping patients and families living with life limiting illness across South Devon access patient-centred care to improve quality of life and share precious moments together.

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