Originally from Wales, Des Jones, 88, a retired Police Inspector had been diagnosed with lung cancer in Sept 2015 when his specialist referred him to Hospiscare.
Two months’ later, Des was given the option of having Peter Hill as his Volunteer Care Navigator. Like other Care Navigators, Peter’s role would be to essentially provide companionship for a few hours each week and helping with any necessary minor chores.
As Peter explains, it is a relaxed arrangement which only occurred as a result of Des’s agreement: “When the Care Navigator and the patient are put in touch initially they meet up for a no obligation chat. If the patient decides it’s not for them, that’s no problem - it’s not compulsory.”
Happily, the two men hit it off: “When Des and I met we got on really well,” recalls Peter. “We enjoy each other’s company and laugh a lot. So I have been helping Des out with whatever he needs ever since. Together we have fixed Des’s leaky shower, done some decorating and taken various trips to the local shops. I also keep in touch with Des’s son and daughter who live in Cheltenham: it gives them peace of mind that their dad has someone nearby to help out.”
But has everything turned out as Peter expected? “When I first started this Care Navigator role I had a pre-conceived idea of what it would be like and that I would be running errands and picking up prescriptions,” he admits. “But it is a lot more varied than that. I have learnt an enormous amount about other people and myself. I would encourage anyone to get in touch with Hospiscare about the Care Navigator roles. I thoroughly enjoy it.”
But what does Des himself think of all this? ”It’s a wonderful service,” he says. “Peter is a lovely fellow, someone to lean on. It’s a flexible arrangement, the care is second to none and I am very happy with it. It’s nice to have the continuity of seeing one person who knows you well. That’s one of the benefits of being allocated your own Care Navigator. Whatever you can glean from others you should, and as my family are not close by I can rely on Peter to help with whatever I need. “
As for the future, Des is philosophical: “At the moment I am feeling very well, and count my blessings, I appreciate everything, my family, lovely sunsets, nature, everything. I think people often take the simple things in life for granted. I have always taken the time to stop and enjoy the views and appreciate what I have,” he says.
He is certainly glad of Peter’s companionship: “Peter and I can talk about anything together, he will always be truthful about my illness and I can talk about my life coming to an end. I always say I hope when the end comes it will be short and sweet like a donkey’s gallop!”
Hospiscare is a local adult hospice charity, providing free, high quality care and support to people with any type of terminal illness, and those close to them, in Exeter, Mid and East Devon. A gift to Hospiscare in your Will helps to ensure the future of the charity in Devon for generations to come.