Coronavirus lockdown: How the Rowans Hospice charity has quickly adapted to a new ‘normal’

As we prepare to enter a fifth week of lockdown, COVID-19 continues to impact heavily with the Rowans Hospice charity no exception.

Promoted by Rowans Hospice
Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 11:09 am
Ruth White, Chief Executive of the Rowans Hospice

The charity has responded quickly to new ways of working, with staff and volunteers adapting to changing environments within the Hospice, in home offices and supporting patients and families within their own homes.

There’s little doubt we are operating in a very different landscape as the healthcare crisis continues to unfold. For many, the workload has felt and continues to feel enormous, as we grapple with sudden and enforced changes. As we move into what has fast become a new ‘normal’, the charity has adopted a positive, keep calm and carry on approach.

It has organised the way forward and, like most organisations, continues to adapt, innovate and implement changes in line with government and NHS England advice. Whilst proving challenging, these new ways of working have provided an excellent learning opportunity to break new ground in end-of-life patient care, supporting the charity now and into the future.

Tracy Jeffery, Manager for the Rowans Living Well Centre

Ruth White, Chief Executive, said: ‘It’s really hard to believe what’s happening to our country and local health and social care economy right now as we face the pressures of this healthcare crisis. Hospices are renowned for high quality end-of-life care, with their role essential in supporting the NHS in its fight against COVID-19.

‘Today and over the coming weeks, that care is now more important than ever. Although working outside of the immediate acute care trust, the Rowans Hospice charity continues to work exceptionally hard supporting NHS colleagues in the COVID effort.’

She continued: ‘In support of that national effort, the charity is investing heavily in training more staff and preparing them for the specialist work we do. Needless to say, the costs are now much higher as we admit more patients to our In-Patient Unit and our Hospice at Home team increase their work in the community. With fundraising and events all postponed or cancelled, the financial impact to the charity is huge.’

Looking at the wider services of the charity, nursing teams continue to support patients and carers using phone and video messaging and, at a time when patients may otherwise feel even more vulnerable and socially isolated, the Rowans Living Well Centre is often seen as a lifeline during times of illness.

Rowans Hospice

Despite its temporary closure, the charity is still very much on the frontline supporting patients, family members and the bereaved.

Tracy Jeffery, Manager for the Rowans Living Well Centre, commented: ‘The team has telephoned all patients and carers who regularly visit the centre. Everyone has really appreciated us taking the time to call, with most saying we’ve made them feel like they matter, that we truly care about each person as an individual.

‘The centre is a lifeline when someone is distressed and needs help to manage their illness. The current situation has highlighted that through necessity, and adapting the way we work, we know we can offer more support “virtually” to a wider community going forwards.’

As well as increasing the number of end-of-life beds in the In-Patient Unit and the number of community visits, another of the charity’s top priorities is protecting staff, patients and families. Getting hold of the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been challenging. But in true British stoicism in a crisis, and following a plea on social media, the charity has received donations of PPE from the public and businesses offering their supplies.

Rowans Hospice

In particular, the charity is thankful to those using 3D printers to purposefully make full-face visor shields for the clinical teams.

Hospices depend on the generosity of local communities for donations to care for people and families affected by life-limiting illness, so it’s now more important than ever that people continue to support their local hospice.

When asked about the impact Coronavirus has had on income, Carol Milner, Director of Income Generation, said: ‘Like most charities, we closed our retail shops very early on, with our retail staff and volunteers working so hard to ensure that we did this efficiently and professionally.

‘In addition, we had to make the difficult decision to postpone two flagship fundraising events - Rowans Does Strictly and our iconic Moonlit Memories Walk, both planned for early May. Under current government legislation, they now cannot take place.

Rowans Hospice

‘However, never defeated, our fundraising team is working hard to reschedule both for later this year, when we hope to stage a number of events for our Capital Appeal.

‘We’ve also considered that as the situation evolves, the charity may not be able to stage other vital fundraising events in their conventional format. As almost 90% of our income is generated through our retail shops, fundraising events and donations, we’re thinking very differently.

‘Whilst postponement of fundraising events is disappointing and a worrying prospect, we’re not deterred in our creativity and innovation. We’re appealing to our community to pull together and join ‘virtual’ events like our monthly Friday night Rowans Big Quiz live on Facebook, the Step it Up for Rowans 5,000 steps daily challenge and our Let it Grow big hair adventure! Details of all events can be found on our website at

‘These events will give those self-isolating, shielding or affected by the illness the opportunity to participate, protect their mental health and wellbeing, whilst also supporting us to lessen the impact on vital income. In good old-fashioned make-do-and-mend style, we are making an absolute success of these events!’

Ruth White concluded: ‘We continue to be truly inspired by our people’s commitment to come together and find a positive amongst the negative. Our clinical and support staff and volunteers are as prepared as they can be. They make me so incredibly proud every day and together we hope and believe we will weather this and come out the other side stronger than ever.”

Crisis Appeal at