From furlough to the frontline

It’s been a year since the pandemic was first declared. And while it brought much of the UK to a standstill, the vital care that Ashgate Hospicecare provides to patients and their families has never stopped.  

The hospice’s frontline workers have been working tirelessly since last March, continuing to provide quality end-of-life care and supporting NHS colleagues in the COVID-19 response to ease pressure on the healthcare system. 

Few hospices in the country have supported as many end-of-life COVID patients as Ashgate, with one in three beds being used by patients who had tested positive with the virus during the second waveDemand for their care had never been greater and staff from across the organisation were redeployed to their busy inpatient unit. 

From the tireless housekeeping team who kept the hospice safe and clean to the community team providing essential care to patients at home – nobody could have anticipated how the pandemic would unfold. 

But they’ve continued to work with dedication and professionalism through three national lockdownsso that patients receive the very best care possible at the end of their life.  

As we approach the one-year anniversary since the pandemic was first declaredwe hear about the highs and lows that Ashgate Hospicecare’s frontline workers have experienced over the past 12 months. 

To ensure that Ashgate Hospicecare can continue to respond to the pandemic in months to come, donate at 


Paul Street, van driver based at the Hasland Furniture Store, was initially furloughed during lockdown before being redeployed as a Ward Assistant on the inpatient unit to support the team in its efforts to care for a sharp increase in COVID and non-COVID patients.

I was furloughed during lockdown, 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 takeme long to settle in. 

I think my role now, and being part of the COVID-19 response, is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I really am honoured to be part of the Ashgate family. 

My day job is van driver at the Furniture Store, so I’m used to collecting donations of beds and sofas and delivering them to people’s home. 

But aWard Assistant, I’ve been interacting with families of patients staying on the ward, ensuring there’s enough PPE available for the doctors, delivering COVID samples to the Royal Chesterfield; anything that supports the wonderful people caring for the patients at the end of their life.  

One of my responsibilities habeen training volunteers to carry out these roles, so they’re able to support the inpatient unit when we return to our normal retail jobs. 

Overall, I’ve found it to be ainteresting experience so far. It is eye-opening to see what happens on the hospice frontline and I am glad to be doing my bit to help. I feel like it is my duty to do something, just like our fathers and mothers did during the Second World War.  

For me, it’s been a great chance to see directly how the money that the retail team generates supports patients and their families. It’s so different to what I’m used to, but I’ll be taking some aspects of life on the frontline with me when returning to my day job.  

Overall, it’s been extremely rewarding as the doctors and nursing staff are so grateful for our support, which means a lot to me.  

also get huge satisfaction knowing the little bit we are doing is helping families because they are reassured that their loved ones are getting the best care possible.  

I was apprehensive about the opportunity at first, and my family were cautious about me working in an environment where there were COVID-19 patients. But when I explained the procedures the hospice had in place, it eased any concerns they had. I do feel very safe coming into work.  

am so proud to work for Ashgate HospicecareAnd I can now say it’s a great team to be part of across the organisation, whether you’re working in retail or in a healthcare setting. I’ve been made so welcome since arriving on the hospice inpatient unit which is something I will never forget.  

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