Rowcroft shines light on 'hidden stars'

Picture of Rowcroft worker

Debbie Gay - Credit: Rowcroft

South Devon’s Rowcroft Hospice has been shining a light on its ‘hidden stars’. 

It fits in neatly with the ‘Naturally Inspiring’ ethos and theme of the Torbay Weekly. 

A hospice spokesman said: “There are thousands of people in our South Devon community who give so much of themselves - often unnoticed – to help make the world a better place.  

“These inspiring people – from all walks of life and of all ages – go to great lengths to help and care for others, and nothing will stop them – not even a global pandemic.  

“At Rowcroft Hospice, there is a whole galaxy of hidden stars – people who work tirelessly behind the scenes at the hospice to make the world of difference for Rowcroft’s patients living with life-limiting illnesses.  

“From gardeners to housekeepers, from cooks to hairdressers, these amazing people help to keep the hospice running smoothly and give patients and their families the best possible experience of high-quality care and support.” 

Meet Christine Mchaffie, Rowcroft’s Head Housekeeper. She plays a critical role in keeping Rowcroft’s Inpatient Unit in Torquay and other buildings and facilities clean. 

Picture of Rowcroft worker

Christine Mchaffie - Credit: Rowcroft

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“As Head Housekeeper, I’m specifically in charge of infection control cleaning processes,” said Christine. 

“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. 

“We’ve also had to get to grips with wearing personal protective equipment. We get so hot wearing the masks and they seem to make communication awkward. But we understand why it’s so important.” 

Meet Debbie Gay – the hospice hairdresser. Debbie has a close personal connection to Rowcroft as her aunt, grandma and mum were all cared for by the hospice nurses and care teams. For Debbie, this makes her hairdressing work for Rowcroft all the more meaningful. 

“To do this job well, you need to be warm, compassionate and very good at listening!” said Debbie. “Sometimes it’s not even about having their hair done, but more about having a chat.  I am always here to listen - whether the patient wants to talk about life, to have a rant, or to chat about something trivial like a new TV show.  

“I enjoy seeing people with smiles on their faces after I’ve finished. It definitely makes it all worthwhile. I love that I meet lots of different people from all walks of life. No day is ever the same. 

“My most cherished memory is of a patient who had come into the hospice after a stay in the hospital. She had been quite poorly but was feeling slightly better. She was so excited to hear that she could have her hair washed, cut and styled. When I had finished her hair, I showed her what I had done in the mirror. She cried and flung her arms around me (pre-COVID) thanking me for making her feel like she was normal again. For me, this is what my role is all about.” 

The hospice spokesman said: “There are countless other hidden stars dotted across the whole hospice, performing so many different types of roles – many of them voluntary – in Rowcroft’s shops, cafes, offices, and gardens, and in caring for patients and families in their own homes or in the Inpatient Unit or Outpatient Centre in Torquay. 

“It is reassuring to know that even in these most challenging times, a kind-hearted, generosity of spirit continues to burn bright in so many people and it radiates its warmth to all. It is a spirit that cannot be broken. "

For further information and to find out how you can support Rowcroft during this pandemic, please call 01803 210800 or visit: www.rowcrofthospice.org.uk