July 11th 2014 was the day my dad suffered a cerebral vascular accident (severe stroke). Overnight he had gone from being a big strong 6’2″ hardworking man, to being bedbound, unable to speak or communicate in anyway and all his right side paralysed.
He spent the next 6 months in hospital, suffering another 2 strokes, a cardiac arrest and also developed epilepsy. We were advised on a care home setting with 24 hour nursing care. But instead we decided to bring him home, I gave up my job and along with my mam, sister and brother we cared for him at home.
In December 2015 my dad was showing signs of a chest infection, but then after developing bed sores and refusing food or fluids we realised his condition was worsening. We had carers coming four times a day and once through the night, but realised it was time to ask for some help for the in-between times when we were alone. Within 10 minutes of speaking to our social worker I received a call from Hospice at Home West Cumbria, to say a hospice nurse would be with us at 10pm that night. We felt instantly relieved and so grateful.
As promised, one of the hospice nurses came, we introduced her to my dad, we laughed, cried and talked until the early hours, and for the first time in 2 days went to bed safe in the knowledge that if anything changed, the nurse would come for us.
At 5.30am we were called downstairs, I remember telling the nurse I was so scared and didn’t want her to leave at 7am as planned. She explained what was happening and told us she had been talking to my dad throughout the night, and the reason why she had called for us. She hugged us, held our hands and spoke the nicest words to us all. At 6.45am my dad passed away, with dignity, at home surrounded by his family and the hospice nurse, who we call a living angel. Our family were so scared at the thought of facing my dad’s death alone but she talked us through everything, what to expect and what to do when she left.
Until the day my dad died, I always thought hospice was purely for patients suffering from cancer, I had no idea they provided end of life care like we had received for my dad.
Words will never be enough to show our thanks to Hospice at Home West Cumbria for their care and support. We received bereavement support for the adults and children in our family, follow up calls to see how we were coping and were invited to the Light up a Life remembrance service at Christmas. We were overwhelmed he was remembered, which is so important in death.
As a family we will never forget the work of Hospice at Home West Cumbria and we are honoured to have such a fantastic charity in our area, for our use, free of charge. A simple thank you could never be enough.
Gemma Grant, Daughter.