independent

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Why we need hospice care

At some point during life we will all know someone close to us with an advanced life-limiting illness. When that happens palliative care can make all the difference as it did for Sligo couple Mary and Kevin. Mary who wishes to remain anonymous told us her story:

My name is Mary, Kevin was my husband's name. Kevin worked all his life and had retired two years before he passed away. When I retired we planned we'd have an exotic trip away. We were both around sixty and thought we'll both have at least another ten years to do this.

But Kevin was given a terminal diagnoses on February 9th 2015 and told that there was no treatment apart from palliative care. Due to the severity of his condition pain control became a serious problem. After a week at home he suggested going to North West Hospice. He became an inpatient on February 23rd 2015 where he lived life with quality and dignity before going to his eternal rest on March 20th 2015….. 25 days in total…

For Kevin, these final 25 days were remarkable. What he lost in physical determination and strength, he gained in emotional peace, contentment and acceptance. This allowed him the time and space to tie-up ends, spend quality time with family and friends, talk about and plan for a funeral and decide on a final resting place.

He embraced Ireland's progressive success in the Six Nations Championship and engaged in a few traditional music sessions. He enjoyed day trips home. He even dropped into the Village Inn to meet the locals and have a pint.

For the family, those final 25 days were punctuated with highs and lows, distress and trauma, fear of the unknown, the uncertainty and inevitability of what lay ahead. On reflection, we are extremely grateful for those 25 days of quality time. Every waking moment was spent with Kevin; reading the paper, doing the crosswords, the Sudoku's, playing cards, listening to traditional music, watching the rugby, placing bets at Cheltenham, and chatting about the family wedding. He was facilitated by the hospice team to attend music sessions and to engage in regular daily activities like washing and eating.

North West Hospice became the safe haven, the shelter, the refuge. We were immersed in solace, calm, empathy, understanding and quality care. Counsel and guidance were offered in a very sensitive and intuitive way.

Staff were so professional, always accommodating, facilitating, encouraging, actively listening and providing for every wish and desire. Their expertise in administering pain relief enabled Kevin's final wish become reality - to live pain-free. The Staff in the Hospice became an extension of the immediate family building up support, companionship, trust, fun and banter. We were able to share our worries and concerns in confidence. They made a very surreal situation almost normal. We will be forever indebted to them.

Sligo Champion

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