When we launched our re-branded design and awareness campaign at Dartmouth's Royal Naval College two years ago, our aim was to pro-actively reach out to communities across South Devon. At the time, research indicated that less than 5% of people in the hospice's catchment area were aware of many key facts about our funding and services, including that 60% of the care is provided in the community, not in the grounds of the hospice.
Two years on, our communication campaign has had positive results; our two flagship fundraising events have grown in popularity - both the paint-fuelled Colour Rush and ladies-only Sleep Walk broke previous records this year by selling out in record time - the retail department is continuing to successfully target a wealth of new, loyal and engaged customers, and a bright, colourful new logo is beginning to breakdown peoples' perceptions of hospices as being dark, difficult places.
We continue to raise awareness of the incredible work that takes place within the hospice, and of the expansive range of services now available to people living with life-limiting illnesses, and their families.
Giles Charnaud, CEO of Rowcroft Hospice, explains: "Rowcroft has changed a lot over recent years. Our Inpatient care has become much more complex; we are providing care to people with increasingly high dependency requirements and are placing greater emphasis on community based care, within peoples' own homes and nearer those who matter to them. We are also encompassing a wider range of health and social care professionals in our care services, including social workers, complementary therapists, and spiritual support."
Our Community Team provides physical, psychological, social and spiritual support to patients in their own homes. They cover a three hundred square mile catchment area from Dawlish to Dartmouth and are headed by Community Team Manager Jo Pope. Jo currently manages the Clinical Nurse Specialists, Social Workers, Occupational Therapists, Complementary Therapists and Physiotherapists, as well as an Art Therapist, Music Therapist and the hospice's Bereavement Service. Other members of the team include Rowcroft's Specialist Palliative Care Consultant and the hospice's administration team.
Jo describes her team as 'providing hospice care without walls.' She explains: "When someone is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness they may lose control of aspects of their life so our role, alongside our health and social care colleagues, is to enable them as much control over their lives as possible. Travelling to a patient's home means they can save the energy they would have expended travelling to an appointment. Our job is about empowering the patient, helping them to feel in control at one of the most difficult times of their life.
We also offer an expansive range of community services to the families and carers of patients living with life-limiting illnesses. "We offer support to patients, their families, including children " explains Jo, "but the level of support we provide is set by the family; we don't set the goals, but can offer as much help as families require, helping with telling children bad news, and supporting them with resources such as books, cards and memory boxes." The community team's wealth of other services are also available to the families of Rowcroft's patients, including bereavement support.
As well as our commitment to advancing inpatient and community-based care, we're also looking to expand, and raise awareness of our dedicated Hospice at Home service. Sarah Morris, Rowcroft Hospice at Home Manager, explains: "The aim of the service is to help patients who would prefer to be at home in the last days of life achieve that wish, whether their home is a private residence or a care home."
The service is led by Specialist Palliative Care Registered Nurses who work with GPs, District Nurses and other care providers to offer advice, support and information to patients based on their condition and changing needs.Registered nurses are supported by Rowcroft's Senior Healthcare Assistants who together provide up to 24/7 hands on nursing care to patients and their families in the last few weeks of life.
Sarah adds: "Hospice at Home enables family carers to continue their role by offering advice and providing respite. The service helps patients to stay in their preferred place of care, preventing unwanted hospital admissions and supporting discharge from hospital in the last days of life."
Awareness of our broad range of services has grown in recent years, particularly in the Dartmouth area. Our Clinical Nurse Specialist in Palliative Care, Andie Day, who is based in Dartmouth, says: "We have worked in collaboration with GP practices, District Nurses and Dartmouth Caring to promote the hospice's ethos of providing support to patients and their families in their own homes at the end of life. The local community in Dartmouth is becoming increasingly aware of what services exist to help support them, and that is something Rowcroft considers incredibly important. We have worked very hard to ensure the people in this community know we are here to support them with all aspects of palliative care and accessible end of life care."
She adds: "Dartmouth is a very special place; it has a small and intimate community, compared to a bigger town such as Torquay. Working in such a small community has allowed me to get to know the area very well, and in turn it ensures that the community know what my role is and what Rowcroft can do to help support patients and their families. I feel very privileged to work in such a special place with such wonderful people."
Donating just £5 per month for one year will enable Rowcroft to provide three hours of one-on-one specialised nursing, helping patients to remain in control of their lives. To set up a regular gift visit www.rowcrofthospice.org.uk/regular-giving; we may not be able to add days to lives, but with your help, we can add life to days.