Hospice launches home care appeal to help families when they are needed the most

Hospice at Home nurse in uniform and full PPE gear

Claire Redhead – Rowcroft Hospice at Home Nurse - Credit: Roy Riley

With increasing numbers of local people requiring end-of-life care at home, Rowcroft Hospice has launched its ‘Hospice at Home’ Appeal to raise vital funds to meet this urgent and growing need.  

The charity is hoping to recruit more staff  and is appealing for donations from the public to help. 

“The pandemic has exacerbated the already high demand for end-of-life care here in South Devon,” says Karenne Weaver, Rowcroft’s Hospice at Home Manager.  

“Our Hospice at Home team which cares for people in their own homes during their last two weeks of life has seen patient referrals increase from approximately 37 patients per month to over 50. That’s up by about 35 per cent since the start of the pandemic.  

“There have been devastating times when we’ve been unable to care for everyone in need, simply because we don’t have enough nurses and healthcare assistants. 

“At this time of unprecedented demand for our care, this funding is crucial for us as a charity, particularly because we have suffered a significant loss of income through the pandemic.” 

Rowcroft’s Hospice at Home team provides end-of-life care to around 440 patients per year, with specialist nursing teams supporting patients and their families 24/7 in their own homes across South Devon – spanning an area of 300 square miles from Dartmouth to Dawlish and up onto Dartmoor. 

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Over the next two years Rowcroft hopes to raise £1million to fund the existing Hospice at Home service as well as the expansion, enabling the charity to care for an additional 290 patients per year. 

Judith McMahon’s husband John from Paignton was cared for by the Hospice at Home team before he passed away a few years ago after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Judith said: “He deteriorated really rapidly. We didn’t really want anybody helping but the pain got so bad I contacted Rowcroft’s Hospice at Home team. I wouldn’t have been able to manage without them. The care that these wonderful nurses gave made me feel calm and I felt we were in safe hands. It was clear they knew what they were doing - they were patient, kind and professional, and John wasn’t in pain any more. It was such a relief. 

“It was very important that he passed away at home. We’ve got lovely sea views from our house, so right up until the end he was able to look at the sea. Just being there with him, being able to hold him when the nurse told me he was dying, it was just wonderful. I was able to hug him as he passed away. To see him relaxed, and for him to be able to die peacefully in a dignified way, it makes such a difference to my life now. That team made an unbearable experience bearable for me.” 

Rowcroft’s Hospice at Home team comprises devoted nurses and healthcare assistants who help to manage symptoms, provide effective pain relief, attend to personal care needs, and offer emotional support. They often care for patients through the night, giving families a much-needed break and helping them to cope better with the trauma of saying goodbye to a loved one. 

“For many of our patients and families, being in the comfort of home makes such a difference,” said Karenne. “At home, patients are surrounded by the people, pets and things they love, and the familiar comforts go such a long way in helping families to make the most of precious last moments together. While we know that the vast majority of people would prefer to die at home, in Devon less than a quarter of people achieve this. 

Rowcroft cares for nearly 2,500 patients each year through its Inpatient Unit, community team and the Hospice at Home team. The charity currently cares for one in three people with a life-limiting illness in South Devon, but aims to reach one in two people by 2023 and two in three by 2030