“It’s Inspiring Working Here” – How the Rowans Living Well Centre Is Improving Quality of Life

Tracy Jeffery_2018_blog

Just three months after opening in 1994, Rowans Hospice started to provide therapeutic day care services to support local people in our community who are living with life-limiting and progressive illnesses. Tracy Jeffery, Manager of Rowans Living Well Centre, provides an insight into why this has been and remains so valuable.

“When living with a life-limiting illness, it’s really important to provide an opportunity for the person to maintain social interaction, whilst accessing specialist, person-centered support.  Support, which helps them to improve their quality of life, removing the label of their diagnosis and restoring their name and true identity.”

“Originally Rowans Hospice offered traditional ‘Day Care’, which incorporated different activities, entertainment, complementary therapies and various types of Arts & Crafts.  The activities provided patients opportunities to interact with others within an environment where they could naturally and safely share and talk about difficult subjects and possibly troubling thoughts. Conversations ranged from “I don’t know how to tell my family this”; “I am dying, I know I am dying but actually I don’t know how to tell my granddaughter”, and then someone will share “you know what I did at the weekend, I have sorted out my funeral” or “actually I found these shoes helpful.

“Conversations were frequently entwined with laughter”, Tracy explained, recalling many hilarious conversations, where at times the humour was also very dark! These moments of sharing have been important to maintain whilst developing the service, as these moments make the service hugely valuable.

Facilitating Important conversations

“”When people visit the Living Well Centre, they are gently encouraged to talk about ‘those difficult conversations’, which they may be struggling to have but are important to enable people to manage their preferences and choices – such as talking about resuscitation and future care planning in a sensitive manner.  Staff and volunteers have the experience to support and facilitate these conversations and although extremely hard, people do welcome this opportunity.”

Friendship and Respite

For Tracy, the relaxed environment, beautiful surroundings and gentle therapies on offer are key components that have led to the success of the Centre. In addition, patients quickly talk openly to each other and start to form lovely friendships, often meeting outside of the Hospice too.

This is also true for family carers who develop friendships and support, which are maintained into bereavement. Plus the Centre offers them respite as they know their loved ones will be safe and well cared for, especially if they have nursing care needs.  As carer Wendy Groombridge said:  ‘I knew I could leave Dad in a place where he was safe, supported and cared for… I didn’t have to worry about him.’

Constantly Developing

“Since our therapeutic day care services first started, twenty five years ago, we have built upon what is really valued: friendship, companionship, the need to be treated as a unique person and incorporated these values into the Living Well Centre.  The Centre’s primary purpose is to enable people to live well, supported by a therapeutic team of health professionals, complementary therapists and trained volunteers who offer guidance and support.”

Tracy explained that there is a range of patients visiting the Centre, from those who have just been recently diagnosed to those whose illness is more advanced and require more care.  For those who are newly diagnosed there is often a need to have information and in this respect they often link people with other services provided by the NHS, Adult Social Care and other Charities and community groups, as well as designing a timetable of activities to help them to live well and maintain quality of life.

For those with nursing needs, the care team will undertake an initial assessment to establish if they are able to meet their needs. Following this they can attend the Centre for part of a day or a full day, following an agreed programme of care which is co-designed. This care plan often includes referrals to other team members such as physiotherapist, psychologist or chaplain.

Meeting Their Needs, Not Ours

Tracy concluded by stating; “It’s inspiring working here, as Rowans services are so innovative. The patient, carers and the bereaved are always at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts. Services are developed to meet their unique needs and not just what ‘we’ believe is best for them.  We are motivated to improve the quality of life for all the visitors and to continue to strive, adapt and improve our care services into the future. The Silver Jubilee Appeal is a really clear example of this, as the Hospice refurbishment will enable us to continue to meet the growing and changing needs of our community.”

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