To mark Dying Matters, we spoke to Ann Cooper, a Patient Support Volunteer, who experienced our care in 2016 when her husband of almost 50 years, Bob spent four weeks on our Adult Inpatient Unit before he died.
Bob was cared for at St Oswald's Hospice in December 2016 and at first he didn’t want to come to the Hospice, but after just a few minutes he compared it to a five star hotel, and his grandson questioned how he could afford to be cared for in such a lovely place!
Ann tells us more about her experiences of hospice care, which has inspired her to volunteer, fundraise and even write some beautiful poetry, including a moving piece titled ‘Your favourite colour was red’ which you can read below.
“Bob had been told he had terminal liver cancer about nine months before he died and he’d talked about wanting to die at home. I’d had good experiences of St Oswald’s Hospice from visiting friends so after speaking to a Macmillan Nurse Bob agreed to go to the Hospice for pain and symptom management.
“He made it clear he didn’t want to go and was nervously looking up the Hospice on his iPad the night before. However, all his worries disappeared when we were first taken to his room and he commented on how beautiful it was. Bob was so relaxed and compared St Oswald’s to a five star hotel. Not long after we arrived, we were also greeted by a pet therapy dog which was a lovely extra special touch! Later on, my 10 year old grandson visited and commented about how we could afford such a place because it was nice.
“Over the next few days, a weight was lifted. I got to spend quality time with Bob, and together with our three children, we spent all our time at St Oswald’s Hospice. Bob was doing really well and I didn’t have to worry about his medication or injections, as that was all taken care of by staff. Bob stayed in the Hospice over Christmas so on Christmas Eve I slept over and in the morning staff gave us gifts and brought us breakfast. Later in the day, we opened presents as a family. It was all these little thing that made it a very special time.
“Unfortunately, Bob had a set back after about a week and an x-ray confirmed that his bones were crumbling. Despite wanting to go home, we realised that wouldn’t be possible and we all spent another three weeks at the Hospice before Bob died, and he was so well looked after.”
Talking about how she supports the Hospice at every opportunity to thank them for the care Bob and her family received, Ann continued:
“Since Bob died, my family and I do all we can to support the Hospice. We’ve had a big BBQ fundraiser at our local church, we donate anything we can, and get involved in all the events.
“Although I wanted to do everything I could to support the charity, at first I struggled to go back through St Oswald’s doors because there were too many memories. After a few years I began bereavement support with their team which was so helpful, and it made me realise that I wanted to volunteer for them.
“Since December 2020 I have been volunteering as a Patient Support Volunteer, which involves providing companionship and practical support to patients and families on the Inpatient Unit. Although I don’t disclose my experiences to the people I support, I feel well equipped to help them as I have been through something similar.”