Grandmother thanks hospice for support to whole family

Sharon’s story

In a moving acknowledgement of Rowcroft Hospice’s expert end-of-life care, Stoke Gabriel grandmother Shelagh Macdonald has expressed her heartfelt gratitude for the vital support the hospice provided to her daughter Sharon Andrianjafy and to the entire family before Sharon died at the age of 40.

After being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2005, single mum Sharon moved from London to Stoke Gabriel with her two young children (aged eight and six at the time), to be closer to her mother Shelagh. As Sharon deteriorated, she was put in touch with Rowcroft and the hospice delivered crucial support, offering not only medical care but also a compassionate and comprehensive approach to the needs of the whole family.

I feel very lucky that we found Rowcroft,” said Shelagh. “The staff were so kind and supportive to me and to Sharon’s two young children, and they went out of their way to help. I was looked after the whole time and I was able to sleep in the hospice for the last ten days of Sharon’s life.

The children were very young. Lucy was only six and she didn’t really know what was happening. Harry was eight, so he was more aware; the staff had a chat with him and they were very good at explaining things to him and taking time to answer his questions.

Rowcroft’s support

The efforts of staff at the hospice and the relaxed surroundings helped to create a sense of normality for the family during their most challenging moments.

It was summertime so we had picnics in the garden and it was all made as normal as possible. Sharon called it her ‘Garden of Eden’; it was a very relaxing, beautiful place for her, and she was very happy to be there.

My other grandchildren would often visit too, so the children had their cousins with them. At times there would be 6 children aged between 6 and 14, and the staff were so good with them all and went out of their way to make the children feel special. The kids played outside on lawn, having running races, and I even remember one member of staff putting on a little tea party for them. Lucy and Harry also had music therapy sessions which they really enjoyed – they were able to make as much noise as they liked and they loved the guitars and tambourines, and Harry particularly loved the drums.

Rowcroft’s patient care

Each year Rowcroft Hospice offers specialist end-of-life care to 2,500 patients and their loved ones across South Devon through the hospice’s community team, Hospice at Home team and Inpatient Unit in Torquay. The Inpatient Unit is designed to be as family-friendly and as homely as possible, and includes a family room with comfy sofas and lots of toys, games and books, as well as beautiful outdoor spaces for the children to enjoy.

The hospice’s Director of Patient Care Vicky Bartlett said:

Our compassionate holistic care extends not just to the patient, but also to those closest to them. We offer a range of expert services which are designed to support patients and their loved ones alike – these include complementary therapy, music therapy, spiritual care, social work and listening support.

As a charity, it’s a huge privilege to be able to care for our South Devon community, and we’re so grateful to all our amazing supporters whose generosity keeps the hospice going.

Rowcroft needs your support

Two women in their garden, holding one another.Facing escalating demand for its services due to the rising needs of an increasingly aging local population, and coupled with a drop in fundraising income because of the national cost of living crisis, Rowcroft Hospice is navigating many challenges. The charity is asking for regular donations to help expand its specialist end-of-life care services to support more patients with complex needs across South Devon. Learn more about Regular Giving or make a Donation today.

I feel forever grateful to all the staff for making the worst two years of my life bearable,” added Shelagh. “I dread to think what would have happened if Rowcroft hadn’t been there.

One of my granddaughters, Rebecca, now works at the hospice as a healthcare assistant. So it’s gone full circle! She loves her job and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

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