This December, Hospiscare is asking for your help to give patients with terminal illnesses the Christmas they deserve.
Take Colin, for example. Last year, Colin had terminal lung cancer and was admitted to the hospice ward in Exeter a few days before Christmas. He had gone to the hospital where they found he had an infection, and he was given the choice of being treated in the hospital or the hospice. Colin chose the hospice, which he knew well, and where they had the expertise to control the pain he was experiencing as well as treating the infection.
Colin knew this would be his last Christmas and so he really wanted to spend the day at his daughter and son-in-law Penny and Keiron’s home in Exmouth, joined by his son Roland, his wife Rachel and all the grandchildren, Heather, Matthew, Thomas and Anna. The doctors weren’t sure whether Colin was well enough to go, and he needed oxygen to breathe properly which would make a trip out difficult. But on Christmas morning Colin got his Christmas wish and the hospice doctors gave the go ahead for him to go home. The nurses sprang into action, making sure that Colin and his family had everything they needed to make sure he would be safe and pain-free so they could just enjoy being a family on Christmas Day for the last time.
Colin’s partner, Patience, said:
"We had a traditional Christmas, exchanging presents and enjoying a turkey with all the trimmings. Colin loved his family deeply and was very proud of them, and I think the photo above shows how much it meant to him to be home with them that day. It was very special for us, too, to have him there.
“Colin wanted to come home again on Boxing Day – he didn’t want to miss the cold turkey! But the doctors thought it would be too much for him. So the staff at Hospiscare let us take Boxing Day to Colin. Penny and Rachel packed up lunch and took it to the hospice. The nurses set aside a room for us and supplied everything we needed: cutlery, napkins, plates and glasses – you name it – and the whole family, including Colin’s much loved in-laws, Maurice and Peggy, who joined us, had a lovely lunch party.
“Over the following days, the hospice was Colin’s safe haven. With his pain and other symptoms under control he felt well. He really enjoyed the food and even began to gain weight, saying he thought he ought to cut down!
“Sadly, a few weeks later, Colin’s life drew to a close. It was a very peaceful end, with his family surrounding him once more – exactly as he would have wished.
“The family experienced at first hand the care of Hospiscare’s doctors and nurses, so we’re passionate supporters. We want this brilliant local charity to be there for every other family who needs it. We hope that you agree, and if you could make a gift – no matter how small – it would mean a great deal. I know they would put it to good use and give more families those last precious moments together as they did ours.”
Director of Care, Tina Naldrett added:
“For the nurses too, it’s a really special time and we look forward to putting up the Christmas tree and decorating the ward.
“On Christmas Eve, we finish putting up the decorations and local choirs come along to sing carols. Family pets are always welcome, and on Christmas Day one of our volunteers brings in her dog, Eric, because he lifts the spirits of our patients and their visitors. Later, the nurses who are on shift that night wrap up the patients’ presents which are then placed by their bedsides for when they wake up.
“As always, we focus on the needs of the individual patient and his or her family. So if someone wants a small, intimate Christmas Day meal by the bedside, we arrange that. For large families, we can organize Christmas parties in our day hospice next to the ward. As you can imagine, it is a busy day for our team in the kitchen.