Swapping the shop floor for the hospice ward

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 athttps://www.ashgatehospicecare.org.uk/donation/ 


Andrea Farmery, Deputy Store Manager at Ashgate’s Hasland Furniture Store, has been redeployed to the hospice ward whilst her shop is closed. She’s now working as a Ward Assistant and supporting doctors and nurses on the frontline by making sure PPE is available to everyone and welcoming families to the hospice.

If you’d told me before the pandemic outbreak that in a year’s time I’d be working on the inpatient unit instead of in a retail role I’d never have believed you! 

It’s fair to say I’m most familiar selling household goods as Deputy Store Manager at the Hasland Furniture Store, rather than helping doctors and nurses as a Ward Assistant.  

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. 

Admittedly, I was quite apprehensive about being redeployed onto the ward after being furloughed since the start of the lockdown.  

But I like to be busy and keep some structure to my week; being on furlough I found I was losing track of the days and had too much time on my hands, so jumped at the opportunity to volunteer at the vaccine centre at first. 

And then when the call from the hospice went out to support the inpatient unit I felt it was my duty to help and give something back. 

I’d never worked in a healthcare environment before, the only experience I have of working in any type of care role was when I was looking after my dad in the last few months of his life. 

It’s all been completely new to me, but the support from the frontline staff on the ward has been fantastic and the training from has really helped me to feel more confident in the tasks I’ve been given.  

I’ve been doing loads of different things – from ensuring enough PPE is always available and cleaning down rooms when patients have been discharged, to working on the reception and answering calls from families of patients receiving care.  

Despite working in an environment where there’s COVID patients, I still feel completely safe as the measures that Ashgate has in place are excellent. Everywhere you go feels very clean. 

Ultimately though, I’m just pleased to be able to offer my help to take the pressure of some jobs away from the busy team, so they can focus on providing vital care to the patients at Ashgate. 

Everyone working at the inpatient unit is very busy but they always manage to do their jobs in such a calm manner, which creates a warm and relaxing environment for the patients and their family. 

I’m hoping to learn from them whilst I’m here and take that calmness and pace of work back to my role in retail. 

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.  

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