“When I think back to when my husband was dying of a brain tumour, he was so ill and in so much pain, when we arrived at the Hospice it was like the safety was there. I felt safe for him and myself. They were so kind, so understanding, really helpful,” says Sue Merrison, whose husband Ron was cared for in the Hospice and then by Hospice nurses at home for his last two days.
When I had to leave at the end of the day, he would be upset, and one of them would come and sit with him and hold his hand, while another one walked me from the Hospice. They were just wonderful.
They explained everything, they asked my opinion, they asked me every personal thing about him. It was like they had known the family all their life but obviously they hadn’t, we were just people off the street.
Without them, he wouldn’t have had the peaceful end that he had, and I wouldn’t have been as calm, if you like. And I wasn’t frightened once he went into the Hospice, the fear of what would happen sort of went away because they were just there.
But they are definitely a special breed. You have to be very special to be a nurse in a Hospice, to do that level of care and genuine kindness doesn’t come easily. The Hospice allowed him to come home for the last two days of his life, and they sent nurses with me to care for him at home, so that was his wish, and he got his wish, but only because of the Hospice.
I think the care in a Hospice is different because they are specially trained for end of life care so there’s that more intimate care. They can build up a closer friendship – you will have a mainly one-to-one nurse so you’re not seeing constant changes of people and they are able to talk and explain better. I think in a normal hospital you can’t give end of life care at that level, there’s just too much else going on. We need a hospice for people who are dying, basically, that’s what they do.
There is a huge difference in the way the Hospice operates. The speed with which they respond to the news that your family now requires the care in a hospice. There’s no waiting times. It’s very quiet, they have their own room so you can have quality time and endless time with your loved one. And it’s just that privacy but that constant knowledge that someone who knows exactly what they are doing is just outside the door. But without hospice care I don’t think people would have the dignity that they do die with, which I don’t think they would get in a hospital.
I don’t think people are aware of what a hospice does until sadly you have to use one. Until you are in that position you don’t know what they do and what they require as well. The amount of equipment and stuff to make your life easier has to come from somewhere and the NHS are just not going to fund that.
I think because it was so frightening, and I am not a person that gets frightened of big things, but I was scared out of my wits. I felt sometimes, “I can’t do anything, I don’t know what to do!” And I think then because they were just there and it was like constantly, because I had the phone next to me, I knew I only had to call that number and you just feel they are sitting there holding your hand.