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Whilst flicking through the local paper back in 1995, Pam Hand spotted an advert for a role as a housekeeper at Ashgate Hospice.
Pam admits she knew little about the charity at the time but was intrigued after hearing about the work it was doing to support families in North Derbyshire.
Her subsequent application for the job was successful and now – 28 years on – Pam leads a team of nine close-knit housekeepers, all of whom are integral to the services the hospice provides for patients.
From guiding her team through the intense challenges of the pandemic to meeting and speaking with hundreds of patients and their families – Pam feels being part of the hospice is a “privilege”.
Pam, aged 64, said: “Prior to starting my role at the hospice I didn’t really know it existed, but I did my research and soon found out what marvellous work everyone did.
“I wanted to get involved and help the hospice support the people of North Derbyshire, so I applied and here I am 28 years later!
“Obviously the cleaning aspect of our job is vitally important but being a housekeeper at Ashgate is way more than just that.
“The team plays a valuable role in providing the hospice’s care; ensuring our patients and families are comfortable during their stay at the hospice and being there to speak with people during difficult moments.”
When the Covid-19 pandemic took hold and the UK was locked down, Pam and her team’s roles changed significantly as the healthcare system dealt with the immense pressures of the virus.
Their roles had been and continue to be crucial to the hospice at all times, let alone during a worldwide pandemic.
Pam’s team took responsibly for keeping patient rooms, offices, communal areas, and bathrooms spotless to reduce the risk of cross contamination and infection.
She said: “During the incredibly hard times of the Covid-19 pandemic it showed the cohesiveness and togetherness of the housekeeping and medical team as we were the only staff members allowed onto the ward.
“Despite numerous barriers, we continued to provide the first-class care that we are known for.
“This felt like a milestone within my career at Ashgate and I can take an immense sense of pride for the way in which my team and I dealt with the unprecedented circumstances we found ourselves in.”
Pam takes on a range of tasks on a day-to-day basis – she organises work schedules and ensures that infection control and prevention is adhered to, whilst carrying out environmental audits and recruiting new housekeepers.
In 2019, she and the housekeeping team were recognised for their hard work after receiving an internal Hospice Heroes Award for going above and beyond at the hospice – a moment which Pam insists was a moment she remains most proud of.
With retirement plans on the horizon for the end of 2024, Pam is looking forward to spending her final year at the hospice making memories with colleagues and patients.
She added: “I’ve seen so many changes over the years and met so many different people, but the standards have never dropped.
“Being part of a wide team across the hospice and knowing you make a difference helping and supporting the people of North Derbyshire is such a privilege.
“I am proud to call all the housekeepers my friends.
“Often people have said to me: ‘I don’t know how you work there it must be very sad’ – yes, there are moments of sadness but the patients and families we support always appreciate a sense of normality and laughter too.
“The next venture is to retire at the end of next year, but Ashgate will forever hold a place in my heart.”