Sr Rose Cashman

rose_cashmanMy name is Sister Rose Cashman; I live in St. Andrew’s Convent, Airdrie, North Lanarkshire. We are seven in community, each one involved in different ministries including Hospital and Hospice chaplaincy and Parish ministry. I am well past retirement age but have the privilege to be a presence at our Day Hospice three days a week from 10 o’clock until 3 o’clock, after which I visit some of the patients on the wards.
Having spent over 50 years in England in Pastoral ministry, two Agencies and 8 years as Provincial Bursar, I moved to Scotland in 2004 and settled into life here very quickly – they are a lovely people.
My day begins at 6.30 – after breakfast I say Morning Prayer of the Church, followed by 1 hour meditation on the Scripture to begin my day in contact with God from whom I receive the graces necessary to go through the day. I usually say the Rosary before I go to the Day Hospice at 10 o’clock. As the patients arrive I make them a drink of tea or coffee and serve them with a nice home-made scone, which is always welcomed as some of them have had a long journey. Transport is provided by our own coaches which are driven by volunteer drivers and by “Cancer Care” drivers.
At 11 o’clock I attend Mass in our Hospice Chapel, some patients appreciate the opportunity to come to Mass as they are not able to attend Sunday Mass. After Mass I spend time chatting with the patients and our Spiritual Adviser reads a story (with a moral) concluding with the Our Father. Lunch is served at 12 o’clock in our very nice bright dining room. There is a three course meal which is cooked in the kitchen by our dedicated staff – patients choose their own meals from the menu. In the afternoon we have Exercises, mostly in sitting position followed by Tai-Chi from members of our Physiotherapy team and short relaxation exercises from our Occupational Therapists – the patients enjoy these exercises and appreciate them. I attend all of these with the patients. After this we play cards, dominoes, bingo or Scrabble then a cup of tea or coffee with a biscuit or cake is served at 1.40. Meanwhile the patients receive various therapies; they see the doctor and can talk with the nurses about their medication etc. For many patients this is their only day out of their house – they say when at home the day drags, but when at the Day Hospice it just flies! While each day we have different people it is extraordinary how they jell, communicate and are caring for each other. There is a lovely atmosphere, the rooms are bright, nicely decorated, there are nice pictures on the walls and the chairs and foot-rests have been specially chosen for the comfort of the patients.
One gentleman who, when he first came to us was using a Zimmer frame and did not communicate with anyone (just kept his eyes down), after a few weeks, while I was playing cards with another man kept looking over under his eyes. When the first man was called to see the doctor I asked him if he would like to play a game of cards – to my surprise he said “Yes”. The next week he said to me “I will get the cards”; he now comes in with a smile on his face, walking straight as a dye just using a stick and enjoys any game. Another man who had a brain tumour some years back does not talk to anyone but loves to play cards. Sometimes one of the staff will play with him in the morning and I usually spend the afternoon with him. His usual comment before leaving is “I enjoyed that”. His sight and memory are affected and often he says to me “What is your name?”
Some patients are anxious on their first visit and I make it a point to sit and talk and listen to them. They usually go home happy and return the following weeks.
When I visit the wards it is usually patients who have attended Day Care I meet and then I get to know the other people and say a little word to them. Today, one person I met, who had been in hospital for 6 weeks and is waiting for a new flat, said to me “This is like a four star hotel! The staff is very dedicated; nothing is too much trouble for them and the food excellent”. This is the usual comment from all the patients.
As in all Hospices, there is an atmosphere of peace. The doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers and chaplains work as a team in a way in which they demonstrate a deep respect for the dignity of each person.
Our sisters were responsible for the building of St. Andrew’s Hospice, 25 years ago, having previously worked in Assumption House, which was a Nursing Home. We depend a lot in donations, the people here are very generous. They go on 6km or 10km walks, climb local hills and mountains, and have done treks in China, Peru and the Canadian Rockies – all to raise money for the Hospice. The school children have Fun-Days in the park, senior grades go climbing and on walks – all organised from the Hospice in co-operation with the staff in the schools. These are very enjoyable events.
When I come home I usually take a short rest until prayer time. We have Evening Prayer and supper together and spend some time talking and sharing, where we gain support and encouragement from each other. I enjoy reading, doing puzzles, listening to music and at the weekend one of the sisters in community would take me to a nearby park or loch. I am not able for much walking, but take short walks and enjoy watching the people (young and old) as they pass by, the swans, ducks and birds.
At 85 years I thank God for all his blessings and to allow me to still be in contact with people.