Caring for the whole family

Marie's mum and dad

You could consider yourself unlucky if you have come into contact with Florence Nightingale Hospice at all in the last few years, as the Hospice supports patients with end-of-life care.

But for Marie Johnson, she considers herself lucky to have the Hospice to call on having needed their care and support three times, including when she lost her husband when she was just 21 years old.

Marie is part of a very large family, including numerous foster children who regarded her parents as theirs. But when she was just 17, Marie’s father George became very ill with cancer of the oesophagus.

“He wanted to spend his last days at home, but to manage daily life in what was a hectic household at that time, Dad would be taken to Day Hospice to give the family respite.”

Twice a week for over three months, Marie’s mum, Peggy was able to go back to some sort of normality of looking after the children at least for the day.

At the same time, Marie’s dad had other people to talk to at a time when few friends were able to see him. Nurses also came into their home and looked after him overnight so Peggy could get some sleep. And they made it possible for him to spend his last moments at home, something he held dear, and would not have been possible without the Hospice’s support.

Then, four years later, in 1999, tragedy struck as Marie’s husband Darren was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He was just 27 and Marie 21.

The Hospice looked after him at home for the last few months, with nurses providing medical help and also comforting Marie.

They would come in and say: ’I’ve got this, go to bed, just go get some sleep’. And Marie would be able to leave Darren in their care, get some valuable rest, and be able to pick up where she left off the next morning.

Eventually, he was taken into the Hospice for the last few days of his life. A bed was made up next to him so Marie could spend those last days together, as the staff took away all the worries about looking after him.

 

“The care he received was exceptional, his family could visit any time and the environment was just so calm and reassuring.”

 

Then in 2018 Marie’s mother was diagnosed with a growth on her brain. Just like her father, she wanted to be cared for at home, which the family did for several months. However, as is sometimes the case, during her final days she was in much distress.

After a very uncomfortable and stressful night, involving continuous seizures, a nurse from Florence Nightingale Hospice walked in and took all the stress away.

She arranged for a bed within the Hospice and an ambulance to take her there. As soon as she arrived at the Hospice Peggy visibly relaxed, knowing she would be made comfortable and would be treated with respect and dignity.

Her stay was brief and she passed away less than a day later, but Marie will always remember the amazing care staff gave to the whole family.

Her many children and foster children wanted to be with her during her last day. Expecting the situation to potentially be “horrendous” with so many people wanting to come to the Hospice, Marie says it was anything but – nurses steering everyone into two rooms and took the time to help and support everyone.

Together with her mum’s best friend of over fifty years, Marie sat with her overnight. Hospice staff ensured they had eaten and had drinks, while Mum was kept as comfortable as she could be.

 

They just take all the worry, all the anxiety away from you because they’re so calm and in control, I guess, they are just caring and they don’t just care about the patient. They care about the whole family as a unit.

 

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