Rennie Grove Hospice Care – David’s storyJanuary 11, 2017 2:13 pm
David’s wife, Linda, was diagnosed with breast cancer 16 years ago. She underwent radiotherapy and was in remission for seven years. But in 2007 the cancer returned, this time in her other breast. Doctors targeted the tumour with a combination of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and cancer drugs. Although Linda lived with some side effects from her medication, the treatment kept the cancer at bay for a further seven years. Sadly, more recently, Linda’s condition deteriorated. The cancer had spread to her lungs and liver. David explains how the Rennie Grove Hospice at Home nurses were indispensable during her final months.
“No-one used the word ‘terminal’ but I think at that point we both knew what the prognosis meant. We had just had the worst news imaginable – but in fact this is the point at which everything changed and improved. We were referred to Rennie Grove Hospice Care and these amazing nurses came in and transformed the whole situation. From utter confusion – me feeling all at sea – we suddenly had structure and a plan, and someone to liaise with all the strands of healthcare provision we’d been struggling to keep hold of. Someone who could walk into our GP surgery and the doctors would stop and listen.
“The Rennie Grove nurses would sit me down and talk to me – candidly and sensitively – about what was going to happen. They explained what I already knew but still struggled to accept: that Linda was going to die. I would often break down crying when we talked about it. But what they said to me helped me cope: ‘focus on what can be done and ignore what can’t be changed’, they used to say. This may seem intuitive but in the moment – when your loved one is dying and you feel the full weight of responsibility and loss bearing down on you – you need someone to remind you. What the Rennie Grove nurses were saying was that Linda dying was a tragic inevitability – but that it was within our power to make her death the best it could possibly be.
“I set about preparing the house so she could die at home, which was what we both wanted. The nurses also advised me to think about the future: consider Wills, any paperwork in Linda’s name, the logistics of her funeral. I felt terrible planning all this while she was still with us, but on reflection it was the right thing to do. She wanted to be buried in Scotland, where we both originate from, and this required a certain amount of planning ahead.
“The Rennie Grove nurses display an extraordinary combination of emotional intelligence, organisational skills and specialist knowledge. They visited us daily, administering oral morphine initially and later setting up a syringe driver. And whenever I rang, I was put through to someone who knew what they were talking about and a nurse would be with us within 20 minutes to half an hour. If it hadn’t been for them coming to the house, I couldn’t have coped.
“I was holding Linda’s hand when she died. One of the Rennie Grove nurses was with us and her being there was a gift in itself; without her there I would probably have been in utter panic.
“Linda was always at the centre of their care, but with the Rennie Grove nurses, I was treated equally. Unlike all the other healthcare providers who helped us, who rightly focused on Linda, they took the time to support me too. Their reasoning is that a carer who is coping can make the difference between a patient being able to stay at home and having to go into hospital. And all the time they were helping to prepare me for life after Linda – unthinkable at the time, but something I had to deal with.
“It was the most difficult and terrible period of my life, but also in many ways the most uplifting. I saw amazing people at work and the simple fact of people helping others at the most vulnerable point in their lives gave me faith in humanity. To anyone going through this, I would say listen to the nurses’ advice: it is priceless.”
Rennie Grove Hospice Care were awarded funding through Heart of Bucks from the proceeds of the 2015 Kop Hill Climb event.
The donation was spent on a pilot project enabling RGHC to invest in five laptops for nurses in Buckinghamshire. Allowing the nursing team to have secure access to patient records from within the community and to enable them to update patient records following each visit. This increases the efficiency of the service, ensures that shift changes are seamless, nurses travel time is reduced and patient care time is increased.
Patients with life limiting illnesses in Buckinghamshire have been positively impacted by increased nurse visits and increased quality of care. This has helped to alleviate feelings of isolation and increased psychological and emotional wellbeing.
The pilot project has shown an increase in the number of patients receiving hospice at home care and an increase in the number of nurse visits to patients.
To find out more about Rennie Grove Hospice Care please visit their website
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