Yvonne’s husband Don was cared for by our Clinical Nurse Specialists and Hospice Care at Home team, who enabled him to stay at home throughout his illness, and to die at home, where he and Yvonne wanted him to be.
“Don and I were very independent people,” says Yvonne. “It had always been the two of us, and we’d always looked after each other. We were devastated when he was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus and throat. He had chemotherapy, but in March we were told that they couldn’t do any more for him, and he was referred to Phyllis Tuckwell for end of life care.”
“Don didn’t want to go to hospital, and I didn’t want him to go either. He just wanted to stay at home. Sophie, one of Phyllis Tuckwell’s Clinical Nurse Specialists came to our house to see him, and spoke to us about his illness and the care he needed. She was very open and honest; it was nice to be able to talk to someone about what was going to happen next.”
Our Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) are often the first members of our team to see a new patient and are pivotal in assessing each individuals’ needs and the needs of their families. They can refer patients on to other services within PTHC, such as Hospice Care at Home, and can also offer counselling, and practical support to patients’ families and carers.
“By May, Don’s condition had deteriorated and Sophie arranged for the Hospice Care at Home team to start visiting us daily. Don was still able to walk then, so they would help him to shower, and then would dress him and make sure he was comfortable. There are no words to describe how much those visits meant to both of us. They were all so kind – I couldn’t fault them in any way. Don got on well with all of them, but he had particular affection for Veronica and Will. His face would light up when they arrived. They were very kind to me too. They would always ask me if I was ok, and if I needed anything. By this time the UK was in lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Will, Veronica and the team would still visit us. They would go into the cloakroom and put on full PPE before they saw Don – mask, gloves, apron, visors, the full kit. It didn’t bother us at all, they still gave Don the most amazing care. I had looked after Don myself for so long, it took a bit of time for me to adjust to other people caring for him. In my heart I knew that we needed this help though, and it did take the weight off my shoulders.”
“All the while that the Hospice Care at Home team were visiting, Sophie would still call us regularly to see how Don was. She and I had numerous long telephone conversations, which really helped me to get through what was the most devastating time of my life. It was reassuring to know that I could call her at any time, and if she wasn’t there herself, there was always somebody else I could speak to instead.”
“When the pandemic began, Don was still able to walk with a frame, but as he got weaker I was afraid to leave him on his own. Our family all live nearby and so my grandson would go was shopping for us, which was a great help. Don eventually became bedbound, and we managed to get a hospital bed, which we put up downstairs. I wasn’t able to move Don from the bed upstairs down to the hospital bed on my own, but Phyllis Tuckwell helped me to organise support. Erika in particular went out of her way to help me with this.”
“Don died at home on the 12th June. It was so important to both him and me that he was able to stay at home throughout his illness, and I’m so grateful to Phyllis Tuckwell for enabling him to do this. The care they provided was second to none, I would give it ten out of ten, twenty out of ten – they were totally amazing. I loved them all. They were so kind and caring, and they really looked after my husband.”
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