FOR MORE than 24 years she has been part of the Rowans Hospice team that has worked tirelessly to provide outstanding care to those with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones.
Now, following the launch of the Silver Jubilee Appeal to raise £7.5m to transform the hospice in Waterlooville, chief executive Ruth White has shared her story of her time with the Rowans.
Ruth, who was raised in Portsmouth, joined the hospice in Purbrook Heath Road as matron when it opened its doors in 1994.
She said: ‘Having worked in hospices in Chichester and Southampton I knew I really wanted the role as matron, because I could be involved in providing a local facility that was so obviously lacking and so desperately needed.
‘I was over the moon when I was appointed in June 1994 and now, nearly 25 years on, I still have the same sense of pride the founding trustees had.
‘From the the outset the hospice was pioneering, steered by forward-thinking trustee founders and clinicians, who boldly stated the place wasn’t to be exclusively for cancer sufferers.
‘Rowans Hospice was to be accessible to anyone in our community with a life-limiting and progressive illness.’
The hospice provides specialist care to patients, relatives and carers. On the day it opened its doors back in October 1994, two patients arrived at the same time – an elderly lady with a cancer diagnosis and a younger man with HIV.
Ruth said she was always aware of the challenge ahead of her at the Rowans.
She explained: ‘We explore every opportunity to enhance palliative and end-of-life care for our community. Thanks to the unfailing support of that community, Rowans Hospice has developed and extended its services to include in-patient care, bereavement and psychological services, education and training programmes, therapeutic and day care services, Hospice at Home and the relatively new Rowans Living Well Centre.
‘The opening of the centre brought into sharp focus the contrast between that new building with the older hospice.’
Ruth, who moved away from her predominantly nursing role 16 years ago, explained the modern contemporary architecture and interior design, among other things, illustrated how much the hospice was in need of a facelift.
She continued: ‘The review highlighted new technologies that could be incorporated to increase patients’ independence and sense of control.
‘But to fulfil our aspirations we need the help of the community, which is why we have launched the Silver Jubilee Appeal.
‘This ambitious project will create a community of care – an environment for patients, family members, carers, staff and volunteers to utilise.’
As previously reported in The News, which is media partner for the appeal, the transformation project is being split into three phases and will take three to five years to complete.
Ruth continued: ‘We need to continue to strive for excellence and maintain the ‘‘outstanding’’ rating we have achieved through the Care Quality Commission.
‘I am motivated to fulfil the extensive refurbishment plans, ensuring that the community’s hospice is strong, resilient and continues to thrive.
‘We are extremely grateful to the Thistlethwayte family, landowners and custodians of the Southwick Estate, who originally offered us the beautiful piece of land we have.
‘I’m fortunate to work for an organisation I have respected and loved for so long.’
More than 80 people turned out to find out about the care Rowans Hospice provides at its open day on Saturday, from 10am-2pm.
John and Jean Stanley, from Wickham, said: ‘We have supported the hospice for years but this is the first time we have visited. The day was brilliant, we feel deeply moved discovering just how much support the hospice offers.’
To find out more about the Silver Jubilee Appeal and how to get involved, visit silverjubilee.rowanshospice.co.uk.
To read all the latest stories about the appeal, go to the portsmouth.co.uk home page and click on ‘Rowans Hospice’.
- Don’t miss an 8-page supplement all about the appeal and the transformation project in The News on Thursday and a dedicated weekly appeal page that begins on Friday.