We now have spare wash bags on hand for the relatives of our patients, thanks to the kind and considerate actions of two sisters, in memory of their father.
In July 2018, Trish had travelled down from Shropshire to visit her father, who was very ill in hospital. She was staying with her sister, Gill, for a few days and was intending to travel home on their Dad’s birthday.
“On my way home, I was calling in at the Hospital to see Dad to give him his card and present, but I didn’t make it home. When I got to the hospital, he’d been transferred to St Clare Hospice that morning.
“So I rushed over to the Hospice, and the moment I walked into the Inpatient Unit I could feel the calm, the kindness and compassion emanating from the place – honestly, you could touch it.
“I felt my stress levels coming down right away, and one of the nurses took me straight in to see Dad in his room.
“Dad was awake and he recognised me, which I was delighted about. Dad had Alzheimer’s disease but he did seem remarkably lucid at that moment, although he could not speak. The nurses were getting Dad settled in and I went to see the doctor, who said that they thought that Dad might die within a few hours.
“I phoned Gill and she left work immediately. Dad was in a coma quite soon after he was admitted but Gill was able to talk to him as well before he slipped into a coma, although by then he was unable to open his eyes but he raised his eyebrows at the sound of her voice. My brother, Dave, who lives in Leicestershire, had seen him in the hospital as well, just before he was moved to the Hospice.
“Dad went in on the 9th July (his birthday) and died on the 11th and, we didn’t leave his side. We slept in his room with him on sofa beds.
“The people at the Hospice were wonderful; they brought us toast in the morning and an evening meal. They looked after us every bit as much as they looked after Dad. They really made us feel that they were taking the load off us.
“When it seemed that Dad really was slipping away, we asked the nurses if they could contact a chaplain for Dad. They took some time and care in this and found us the wonderful Rev. Lynn Hurry, who came, despite having a hip operation scheduled the next day. As with the Hospice staff, she brought great comfort not only to Dad, but his girls as well. What a perfect example and testament to the holistic approach of St Clare.
“If I hadn’t have been on my way home I wouldn’t have had my suitcase containing a toiletry bag and clean clothes – which my sister and I both used during our stay. It occurred to us that other people in our situation needed a few items to help them feel fresher and stronger. So we decided to make up some toiletry bags – some for men and some for women.
“Because of our experience, we thought maybe we could help someone else. And because Dad’s name was Bruce we wanted to name them after him, so we called them ‘Bruce Bags’.
“We left a card in the bags explaining our story, and why we made them – asking people who used them to replace what they have used, if possible, so that they are there for the next person. We also provided a little card for people to write their loved ones name in, if they wished.
“St Clare is such a joyous place that we wanted to give something back. The nurses, doctors and volunteers gave us so much at such a difficult time in our life. It was only once we’d been there with Dad that I learnt what a great job hospices do. Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to everybody at St Clare.”