We couldn’t have done it without them

Jed received support from the hospice

Dad (Jed (Gerald) Miller) was always such a family man, after some years living in Hyde Heath him and mum moved back to Aylesbury to be closer to my sister Lucy and I and their grandchildren. They would often help with childcare at least twice a week for their five grandchildren.

In April 2021 Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer, as this was during covid times it took longer to get the appointments and scans he needed. He was in pain and spent 5 weeks in hospital he was acutely unwell and due to the spread of cancer he had fractured bones in his neck.

Once he had his diagnosis, things did begin to improve. We were linked to the nurse Cleo at Florence Nightingale Hospice who did regular home visits, she also ensured that Dad was referred to the Lymphoedema Clinic where he received some brilliant help from Sue & Sandy for swelling in his legs.

Here he received fortnightly massage, special stockings and exercises to help reduce swelling. Dad also received physiotherapy at the clinic from Kerry and he was given exercises to help his mobility.

Cleo’s support was amazing, she built a brilliant relationship with Dad, she was quite strict with him but kind, Dad really respected her, and he listened to her. She was also a great support to us as a family, we could always ring her, we knew she was there, and this gave us reassurance. She helped us to make those difficult decisions, it felt less stressful knowing a plan was in place that we all agreed on.

We made the most of every minute, one thing I loved was that every morning he was grateful to be here, although he had times where he felt worried or was in pain, he was generally so upbeat and positive, it was amazing to watch and see.

Unfortunately, some months later, the spread of his cancer progressed quickly, he had numerous appointments, scans and referrals, Dad started to lose weight and was experiencing pain. In September 2022 he was admitted to hospital for a week, there was no more that could be done medically so we it was agreed that we’d focus on making Dad comfortable at home. The very next day, Cleo had arranged for the FNH@Home team to come out, they arranged a hospital bed and all the equipment for Dad and their carers came in twice a day.

Cleo and the FNH@Home team arranged all of Dad’s end of life care – if we were worried all we needed to do was to call them and they’d give advice or come out to see us. We couldn’t have done it without them and their support. Dad’s wish was to stay at home, he wanted to be able to see his garden that he’d worked so hard on, be in familiar surroundings and have his family and dog around him. With the teams support as well as our close family we were able to ensure this for him.

On the day that Dad died he started to go downhill quickly, we knew the end was coming. We called the team who came straight away, the nurse Fiona helped to manage his pain and he peacefully slipped away just before noon. Mum, my sister and I had all worried that the pain wouldn’t be manageable, but it wasn’t like that at all, it was peaceful and quick for him with all his loved ones around him.

Fiona and the team washed him, talked to him, dressed him and gave us all hugs, they made sure he was comfortable, they took control and at the same time took all the panic away, I can’t say enough how amazing they were.

Since losing Dad we have continued to receive support from Cleo and the team, she has visited and called Mum and offered bereavement support to the family. She validated everything that we did, we were so lucky to have Florence.

 

Until we lost Dad, I didn’t know much about hospice care, I didn’t know about the huge package of care and support available at home, the clinics, the physio and the support given not just to Dad but to the whole family. We had a plan for Dad, we had a blue folder which we kept looking at, reviewing it and we knew that he was getting what he wanted, we felt in control thanks to the support from Florence.

 

By Vicki French, Jed’s daughter

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