Meet Des, Hospiscare Housekeeper and songwriter

Des Gardiner was inspired to work at Hospiscare after experiencing the kind of care hospices provide on a personal level after the death of his mum.

My mum passed away in a hospice at 55 – that was where I saw how hospices provide a different kind of care. I was inspired by what I saw and so when an opportunity came along to be part of Hospiscare, I took it.

I used to be a BT engineer, but I’ve worked for Hospiscare for about 10 years now. As well as working at Searle House I’ve worked at the warehouse, dealing with white goods; now, I wear two hats – maintenance and housekeeping.

In terms of maintenance we do a lot of things like legionella flushing to make sure everything is really safe, since patients have compromised immune systems. As for housekeeping, I make sure the house and gardens are clean and look great. When a patient vacates a room or bed space, I’m there to make sure it’s absolutely spotless for the next visitors. First impressions are very important after all – patients have to know we care from the moment they walk in the door.

One Hospiscare memory that stands out was when we filmed my music videos. I’ve written two songs about Hospiscare which you can see on our website; getting everyone together to make the videos was a memorable experience!

I picked up my first guitar when I was 13. My dad hated it so much he cut the strings! I wasn’t deterred and went out and bought another one – he came round in the end! I write my songs to try and express everything I feel about Hospiscare and its principles, but in a condensed way. I think people can much more readily listen to a song than read about something.

The best thing about working here is seeing the satisfaction that patients and their relatives get from the quality of care – which was so important for me when my mum was ill. Patients and their families are at the heart of everything we do; we can’t take away their problems, but we can be there, share in their grief, and bring a sense of personal joy and a smile. It’s important to me to express my faith in practical ways, through helping whoever comes through our doors. For me it’s about being real and genuine.

I’ve no regrets about working here. If I retire I’ll probably come back as a volunteer!