Ashgate Hospicecare’s retail staff praised for going “above and beyond” during height of pandemic
Furloughed Ashgate Hospicecare retail staff have been praised after swapping their usual roles to support their colleagues in the inpatient unit caring for end-of-life patients, during a crucial period of the pandemic.
Just last month, the charity opened a temporary second COVID dedicated wing at its inpatient unit at Old Brampton, taking bed capacity up to 21, after reporting unprecedented demand for its services and a sharp increase in COVID positive patients.
Staff from across the hospice have been redeployed to support those working on the frontline, including seven members of the retail team who were furloughed at the end of last year, after shops were forced to close in line with the Government’s lockdown restrictions.
The retail staff have taken on several roles including Ward Assistant and Ward Receptionist. Their responsibilities include ensuring PPE is available, delivering COVID test samples to Chesterfield Royal Hospital and welcoming families of patients to the ward.
Jane Jones, Head of Clinical Services at Ashgate Hospicecare, said: “We’re so grateful for the retail staff who have been helping out on our inpatient unit; they’ve made such a huge difference since they’ve been here.
“Their support with jobs like putting disposable items away and topping up PPE has meant our nurses and healthcare assistants can focus on spending their time caring for patients.
“They’re all so passionate about doing whatever they can to support the hospice so we can be there for the patients and families in our care. They have the spirit and dedication which embodies everything that being part of the Ashgate family is about.”
Among those who have put themselves forward to take on a new role is Paul Street, a furniture van driver who would usually be based at the Hasland Furniture Store. Paul is working as a Ward Assistant and says it’s been an eye-opening experience to see how the money his team helps to raise is used to directly support families.
“I was furloughed at the start of the lockdown when non-essential retail outlets had to close,” he said. “So, the opportunity to come and help on the inpatient unit at Ashgate was one I couldn’t turn down.
“I’ve certainly been out of my comfort zone; I haven’t really done anything like this before, but it hasn’t taken me long to settle in.
“I get huge satisfaction knowing the little bit we are doing is helping families of patients feel reassured that their loved ones are getting the best care possible. I think my role now is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had; I really am honoured to be part of the Ashgate family.”
Another retail worker who has been redeployed to the ward is Andrea Farmery, who would usually work as the Deputy Store Manager at the Hasland Furniture Store.
She said: “I’m very proud to work for Ashgate Hospicecare and I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to help my colleagues at the hospice during the pandemic. It’s lovely to be able to do a job that helps people when they need it most.
“The transition has been a learning curve to say the least, but I’ve enjoyed the challenge so far and I’m pleased to be doing my bit to support my hospice colleagues during these difficult times.”
Both Andrea and Paul volunteered to help with the vaccine rollout at the Winding Wheel in Chesterfield earlier this year too.
The redeployed retail staff helped during a crucial period of the pandemic and are set to return to their usual roles when the charity’s shops reopen on April 12th.
To fill their roles on the inpatient unit, Ashgate Hospicecare is appealing to anyone who might be interested in volunteering to register their interest.
Anyone who would like to join Ashgate Hospicecare as a Ward Volunteer can find out more by visiting www.ashgatehospicecare.org.uk/volunteer/
Ashgate Hospicecare supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 180 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.