I’m the second Sophie in the Marketing Team at Demelza, and started here in April of this year. I chose Housekeeping as my first Work In Their Shoes, and below is how I found it!
4.30am is slightly earlier than I’m used to setting my alarm, and it was just as difficult to drag myself out of bed as I’d expected. Working in Marketing I’m very lucky to have normal office hours of Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm, so this Work In Their Shoes experience was a bit of shock to the system to say the least.
Arriving at work I was greeted by an incredibly chirpy Michelle and Michaela, who already had on their marigolds and were hard at work. We started in the main offices, hoovering, clearing bins, cleaning kitchens, providing loo roll, refilling hand soap, and all the jobs that you don’t even notice need doing in your general day to day at work. Before hoovering the floor of all office spaces and meeting rooms at Demelza, I never really realised how many staff members there are at our Sittingbourne site, and just how much floor space that equates to!
I also quickly realised I’d wildly misjudged how physically exerting the day was going to be, and that I should have worn my gym kit as opposed to thick jeans, t-shirt and jumper. I was red in the face, sweating profusely, and predicted I was going to ache tomorrow morning.
Housekeeping is not only cleaning, but also ensuring everywhere looks smart, tidy and is ready to be used for the next person. Michelle was quick to readjust all the office swivel chairs I’d tucked under the tables (thinking they were all in line and looking smart) to ensure that all the legs were pointing in the same direction, arms were touching, and all at the same height – attention to detail I didn’t even realise was possible!
We moved onto the bedrooms where I honestly thought Michelle was pulling my leg when, as part of their daily routine, she handed me a mop and asked me to start washing the walls and ceiling beams. The extent to which the children’s rooms are cleaned on a daily basis put any cleaning I’ve done in my life to shame, and is testament to the Housekeeping Team and the cleanliness standards of Demelza. From the walls and floors we moved on to the beds, cleaning every available inch of mattress, head board, and frame, followed by the bathrooms which were gleaming by the time we finished. Not only was I surprised by the extent of cleaning, but also the processes that are adhered to to ensure the safety of cleaning; colour coded cloths and buckets, charts for which bedding is to be washed in different detergents, and knowledge of the families who are currently staying and their needs.
Whilst cleaning, the Housekeeping Team made sure the radio was on so they were able to sing along with every song. Whether you wanted to or not, they made sure everyone in the vicinity would be able to hear their dulcet tones (and some not so dulcet tones!) and hear them coming. Although hard work, the process of completing each room and leaving it spotless was incredibly therapeutic, and gave me an immense feeling of satisfaction knowing it was ready and safe for its next family to enjoy.
On breakfast and lunch break I met Dawn, a wonderful lady who has volunteered in Housekeeping for more years than I can count, and whose ironing is second to none. She, along with the whole team, tucks herself out the way and works incredibly hard. I finished my shift with Jen, who told me insider secrets and cleaning tips whilst we swept and mopped the long Care Corridor that runs through the heart of the hospice. This was another area of the building I hadn’t appreciated the size of until I was cleaning it! And to think, the team would be doing this all again tomorrow.
This was an incredibly eye opening day for me; I underestimated the extent of the Housekeeping Team’s work and just how important it is to everyone at Demelza – children, families, and staff. They crack on with their never-ending list of jobs, at unsociable hours, and manage to do all of it with a smile.