“I’m scared too, but we will carry on caring”, says Rowcroft’s ‘Hospice at Home’ Manager

Rowcroft Hospice launches COVID-19 fundraising appeal to care for vulnerable patients across South Devon

With one in five UK deaths now attributed to COVID-19, Rowcroft Hospice has today launched a new fundraising appeal, calling for support from its South Devon community to help provide more care to local patients living with life-limiting illnesses. Due to the pandemic, Rowcroft is suffering from a loss of income while also facing unprecedented pressures and challenges, particularly in its community service, ‘Hospice at Home’.

“We are launching this appeal to protect our end-of-life care services for those most vulnerable in our South Devon community,” says Claire Redhead, Senior Nurse for Rowcroft’s Hospice at Home service. “We are determined to carry on supporting our patients throughout this COVID-19 national emergency — our community’s biggest challenge that I have ever known. We will never give up providing high quality care and comfort to those with life-limiting illnesses, but I cannot pretend this will be easy. Our income has been badly affected — due to the closure of our charity shops and the cancellation or postponement of all our fundraising events. That’s why — more than ever — we need the help of our community.”

Rowcroft receives a small proportion of its funding from the NHS, and usually generates more than 75% of its income from the local community. With the lockdown in place, the majority of the charity’s regular income stream has been destroyed. Rowcroft has welcomed the government’s recent announcement to provide additional funding for UK hospices. However the charity says that this latest government support does not go far enough in terms of replacing the lost income. While the charity struggles to generate revenue, its staff and volunteers on the frontline are continuing to provide their critical care services, and are receiving overwhelming praise from the community across South Devon.

“I have been totally blown away by the fantastic public support being shown to nurses caring for patients at this time,” explains Ms Redhead. “I tell people we are just doing our job: it’s what we do. But many people are asking how they can help. Now we can tell them that they can support us through this appeal. Whatever you can give, however large or small, will be truly appreciated; it will be put to the best possible use in caring for vulnerable patients in our community.

“It has been unimaginably difficult working through this pandemic. But I am never-endingly inspired by the incredible courage and dedication shown by my nursing colleagues: each and every day they continue to rise bravely to the challenge, working tirelessly around the clock, carrying on caring for patients and their families. This makes me prouder than I can say.”

Rowcroft provides high quality end-of-life care for all vulnerable patients regardless of background, circumstance or diagnosis, including those with COVID-19, across South Devon in their own homes and in Rowcroft’s Inpatient Unit in Torquay. Rowcroft’s expert care has been rated as ‘outstanding’ (the highest possible rating) by the Care Quality Commission. The charity’s central philosophy is to put the patients’ choices at the centre of their end-of-life care: this means helping patients to die well, with the dignity and respect that everyone deserves.

“Most of our patients tell us that they would rather die at home than in hospital,” explains Ms Redhead. “Through Hospice at Home, we help patients to fulfil this wish — to live out their final days in their own homes, surrounded by the people and things they love. By helping patients and families to stay in control, we can make every day the best it can be, even through the toughest of times. Only just the other day, we helped a patient with COVID-19 to return home from hospital as per his wishes, to be able to die in the dignity of his own home — his most treasured place — with his wife by his side. It is these seemingly small details that actually make all the difference in being able to die well. And for loved ones left behind, it is these things that are often remembered forever.”

If you would like to help Rowcroft’s devoted care teams to support more vulnerable patients and their families across South Devon, then you can make a donation via Rowcroft’s website at: www.rowcrofthospice.org.uk/covid-19-appeal/ or you can call Rowcroft’s Fundraising Team on: 01803 210833.

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