This is the latest blog in our series on ‘the hidden stars of the hospice’ – where we shine a light on just a few of Rowcroft’s hidden stars – people who are working tirelessly behind the scenes to make the world of difference for our patients and families. In so many different areas of expertise, from housekeeping to hairdressing, these amazing people provide a vital service to the hospice, keeping everything running smoothly and helping to ensure that our patients and families receive the very highest standard of care.
In this blog, Christine Mchaffie, Rowcroft’s Head Housekeeper explains the crucial role of the Housekeeping Team in keeping Rowcroft’s Inpatient Unit and other buildings and facilities clean, and in keeping our patients, families, staff and volunteers safe.
“The Housekeeping Team keeps the environments and facilities clean and fit for purpose in three of Rowcroft’s buildings in Torquay: Rainbow House, the Outpatients Unit and the Inpatient Unit. As Head Housekeeper I’m specifically in charge of infection control cleaning processes. We contribute an enormous amount to patient care. We have to keep the hospice clean in order to prevent infection, so we need to know about how infections are transferred.
“The COVID pandemic has had a huge impact on us in the Housekeeping Team. Our workload has increased massively; we’ve had to be much more rigorous in our cleaning systems. It’s been a steep learning curve; we’ve taken on board all the latest government advice on COVID and infection control, and we’ve adapted our processes in line with this. We need to be particularly stringent when it comes to regularly disinfecting all surfaces that could potentially transmit infection, for example, doors and door handles, cupboard handles, chairs, taps, basically anything that is touched. We’ve also had to get to grips with wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) – as we have to wear masks, gloves and aprons. We get so hot wearing the masks and they seem to make communication awkward. But we understand why it’s so important.
“We have a lot of communication with patients and their families. Relatives often speak to us as we are cleaning the ward; they sometimes tell us things that they haven’t told the nurses, and we can pass this on to the clinical team and we are another pair of eyes on the ward. The longer you work here, the more you notice and look out for patients and their relatives.
“I’ve worked for Rowcroft for 20 years. I started in July 2000; a lot has changed since then. When I first came here, Outpatients was just a big empty building to be refurbished. It used to be the Coach House and did smell of horses for quite a while. I worked in hospitality for a while, and then I worked as the Shop Manager in Rowcroft’s Torquay shop for two years, before coming back to the Inpatient Unit to work in housekeeping.
“I enjoy the variety: I manage the Housekeeping Team within the three buildings; do admin; I cover staff on annual leave; and I also order and control stores for the Housekeeping and Nursing Team. I’m starting to do less on the wards after doing it for 20 years, which is making me enjoy the organisation/admin side more. The Housekeeping Team is quite a small, close team. We help and support each other – which is something that I also really enjoy about my role.
“I think the audits from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are a big achievement for the Housekeeping Team, as we score very highly. The CQC inspectors come and say they are very pleased with the cleanliness of the hospice. Even relatives of our patients come and say how nice and clean it is. There’s a big misconception about housekeeping; there is a lot more to the role than just coming in and cleaning toilets. We work hard and it’s rewarding that we get positive feedback.”