Saturday 12 July 2014

'Her room gave us a lovely sense of who she was'

Hospice nurse Aine Hughes only spent a short time with Sarah and her family, but she remembers those few days well. "When we met Sarah first, she was unresponsive," says Aine.

"But I always remember you could feel her presence in her bedroom, even though she wasn't verbally able to communicate.

"All the things around the room communicated who she was to you. They had her favourite music playing and photos of her revolved on a computer screen.

"All these wonderful photos of her when she was well and even when she was going through her treatment. It gave us a lovely sense of who she was in that family. Beautifully loved and cared for."

Aine is full of admiration for Sarah's family. "They were amazing," she remembers. "They very much included Sarah in everything they were doing, even in that last week of her life. The house revolved around Sarah and everybody was made to feel very welcome."

Aine, herself a mother of twin four-year-old boys, has worked as a clinical nurse specialist with St Francis Hospice in Raheny for the past 15 years. It's not an easy job, but she says the families make it easier for her and her team.

"They are obviously in a state where they're feeling so helpless," says Aine. "Being able to help them through this awful situation is very rewarding for us."

In Aine's experience, it's important for a family to be able to bring their child home in their final days.

"There's free access, as they're not restricted by hospitals and visiting policies. They can be with their child at all times. The whole family can be in the bed together if they wish.

"The family and the child are surrounded by the things that are so familiar to them," she says. "Being near those familiar walls is really important."

Geraldine Lynagh

Irish Independent

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