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"I had the St Clare Hospice at Home team come and help; they were brilliant, everything went well and I’m glad St Clare were able to help me care for him at home.”

“My husband, Peter, died at home under St Clare Hospice’s care in July,” explained Pat. “Peter had been under St Clare Hospice’s care before lockdown; he’d started to go to Cafe Clare on Fridays, but stopped in March, when it closed; he loved it there. He was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2018. He was ok though, but then in June the doctors said that he couldn’t have any more treatment because the cancer had spread.”

Pat explains that Peter’s decline was really quick in the end. “Peter was still able to drive up until three weeks before he died but then, on Father’s Day (20th June), he really started to go downhill very quickly; he ended up in hospital overnight, and nobody could see him, but thankfully he was able to return home.

“I then looked after him myself for a week at home but I knew that I needed help. I’m a retired nurse so in some ways it was easy for me – but it’s never easy when it’s someone you love.”

“Peter died at home, it was better like that because of the virus – we wanted to be with him. I had the St Clare Hospice at Home team come and help; they were brilliant and it was lovely to be able to have Peter at home. On the Tuesday the nurses came down and helped – along with the district nurses and a local doctor. The nurses came in every day and the doctor came in every night. We were able to care for him at home and he died on the Friday. Everything went well and I’m glad St Clare were able to help me care for him at home.”

Pat

St Clare Hospice’s Hospice at Home service provides hands-on, compassionate care to people with a life-limiting condition during times of crisis when rapid support is needed, they are awaiting a health or social care package, on discharge from hospital, or in the last few weeks of life.

Care is provided by our nursing assistants, who support people with all aspects of personal and social care, such as washing and dressing, as well as providing essential emotional support to patients and their loved ones.

In times of crises, the service helps patients to return home from hospital more quickly by providing transition support when they are ready to be discharged, but the necessary care is not yet in place. The team work closely with other professionals from the Hospice, hospital and the community.

“It was actually my birthday when Peter died; it’s a bit surreal because I’d completely forgotten it was my birthday, with everything going on, but my family came in with a cake, singing happy birthday to me, and I was holding Peter’s hand. Peter took three long breaths and then he died; it’s almost like he was waiting.”

Justin, Pat and Peter’s son, also commented on the care his father received at the time: “My own experience in regards to the help provided is that I’m not sure we could have received better. Everyone involved went the extra mile and made a very difficult time easier.”

St Clare Hospice has continued to support Pat since Peter’s death, and she has been using our Listening Ear service, to help her come to terms with the loss and feel less lonely.

The listening ear service is part of our Bereavement Support Helpline, 01279 967670, which is open to all local people who have experienced bereavement and would like some extra support. The listening ear service offers one-to-one emotional support, via a telephone call, for anyone in West Essex or East Hertfordshire who is feeling lonely due to bereavement.

Those accessing the listening ear service are able to speak about their feelings with a trained St Clare staff member or volunteer, who will call regularly to offer emotional support over the telephone. Thereby building a trusted relationship where thoughts and feelings can be shared in confidence, whilst discovering other local support networks in the local community.

Peter and Pat when they were young
Peter and Pat when they were young

“Peter and I were 53 years married; we’ll be having a memorial for him in the New Year. I’m well supported with a large family; I’ve four children and eight grandchildren, but it does still get lonely. It’s just when everything dies down. It’s different when people go away and things go back to normality. But that’s a fact of life; it’s difficult for a lot of people now.

“Following Peter’s death, the Hospice called me to offer support. Well I got so lonely at home, and when St Clare Hospice suggested the Listening Ear service I thought I’d give it a try. I find it quite useful – I’m quite realistic about life; I see the bigger picture but it doesn’t mean that you don’t feel the loss. Carol, my listening ear, is brilliant – we just chat away and put the world to rights. We even went over the hour last week! We’ve had about six sessions I think.

 

“I would recommend the listening ear service because it helps bring the feelings out of yourself. It’s just chatting but you can talk about yourself and how you feel.”

“We just chat about life in general and the sadness of life and I think it is good to talk like this. It’s useful; you can just talk about life.”

– Pat

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