Hospice prepares for increase in demand as donations drop due to Covid

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's Will Walters

Karen Court's husband Ian died from cancer in Rowans Hospice in May 2020.

She says: "We'd been married 34 years. He supported Chelsea football club. He liked fishing. He was a brilliant cook. Everybody here liked him. And I miss him".

Karen and Ian didn't have any children. And if it wasn't for Rowans' online support groups, she'd have been left on her own. 

Karen's husband Ian passed away in Rowans Hospice in May 2020. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Whilst the hospice is providing end of life care, their Wellbeing Centre is supporting to the loved ones who get left behind. Like most, Rowans have adapted to a digital way of working during lockdown.

Karen says: "We had a bereavement group and there was three men, myself and another lady. And with all men's mental health and that sort of thing, those three men talk. So that's really good".

  • Karen describes her husband Ian

Caring for Ian were the staff nurses, like Rachael Burrell. Her work took a more personal turn at the start of lockdown when her uncle Alan was admitted to the hospice. 

She says: "I was there to answer any questions he had about dying, any fears he had. And also being able to support my family".

Rachel Burrell hangs a message for her uncle on a tree of remembrance within the hospice. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Covid illness and a lack of funding has meant that, at times, the team have been largely understaffed during the pandemic. But their morale has pulled them through. 

Ruth White, the Chief Executive of Rowans Hospice says: "When we went into lockdown just over a year ago, we had to close our whole estate of twenty two shops".

  • Ruth White, Chief Executive of Rowans Hospice

Against the odds, Rowans are expanding the hospice with three new rooms. Donations from the public are now essential to help them cope with increasing demand. 

Mac Mumby, a healthcare support worker at Rowans Wellbeing Centre, says: "We've seen an increase in patients. That means we see an increase in carers and an increase in the bereaved".

"Our job has become very much more intense".

Despite the challenges of the last year Rowans have managed to expand their hospice with three new rooms. Credit: ITV News Meridian

For people like Karen, Rowans services are vital. And even now, she's comforted knowing that Ian wasn't in any pain.

She says: "That was good because if there was one thing he didn't like, it was pain. He used to say he's only allergic to two things: pain and Arsenal supporters".