Doreen’s story

By Lee Redwood

I am struggling to put into words exactly how incredible the entire Forest Holme team were throughout Nan’s illness. Although Nan was (very!) hesitant at first to accept help at Forest Holme, she grew to absolutely love everyone there and the care and facilities that were offered. When she was sat in Critical Care on Sunday morning and we told her the plan was for her to move to Forest Holme, she beamed and asked “did Dr Kevin ask for me to go there?” – to which, of course, we said yes!

I’m honestly sat here not knowing how to express my thoughts, and there are too many people to thank that I fear I won’t be able to successfully mention everybody who inputted and cared for Nan (and us) during her stays.

Firstly, Dr Kevin was wonderful – an absolute backbone to this whole situation and clearly sensed our need to be included in conversations and our desire to know the details wherever possible. His calm and reassuring manner meant that we always felt supported, and never felt an inconvenience. Even when delivering the fatal news, his words ensured that this difficult time was managed with as little heartache as is possible and his reassurance allowed us to make our own decisions on how to deal with the loss and how to best support Nan at the end of her life.

When Nan had been previously admitted to Forest Holme, her hearing was seriously deteriorating and Dr Kevin’s patience was incredible – utilising a dry-wipe board to communicate difficult conversations and spending hours on end with her ensuring she understood. His manner when faced with delivering the news to Nan that she had been diagnosed with Dementia was so calm and allowed her to fully understand and accept what she was facing.

Claire, the Ward Sister, was similarly incredible with her communication and evident love and care for Nan and her family. She was always available for questions and gave us truthful and constructive answers. There was never a time when we felt she was unavailable or busy doing something else – her care was so personal and we will forever be grateful for that. Similarly, the other Ward Sister, Kate, was able to comfort Nan, and us, in her final moments and for this we will be ever grateful.

This brings me on to the last person I would like to personally thank, nurse Jacky. Oh, my goodness – where to even begin?! Put it this way; I would not have been able to get through Nan’s last few days without her. Not only did she have Nan’s best interests at heart, but ours as well and she did absolutely everything in her power to make Nan’s last days as comfortable as possible for us all. You never expect a nurse to remember all of our names, our partners names (who perhaps had not visited the hospice but were supporting us at home) or details of our likes, dislikes, wishes, Nan’s wishes too, and she was able to talk to us about how Nan had been in her previous visits some two months earlier.

This brings me on to the last person I would like to personally thank, nurse Jacky. Oh, my goodness – where to even begin?! Put it this way; I would not have been able to get through Nan’s last few days without her. Not only did she have Nan’s best interests at heart, but ours as well and she did absolutely Jacky’s hugs and comforts turned our entire experience into one that we will remember, yes, with sorrow and heartache, but also as a time that was filled with so much love, care and compassion. She would reassure us of Nan’s awareness of us being with her, but her unawareness of any pain or discomfort she may have been in. Her involvement in Nan’s time at Forest Holme has, seriously, left an impact on us that we will never forget, and be ever grateful for.

I could go on for hours about Jacky’s unbelievable support and comfort, but I know many will already be aware as she, somehow, manages to be like this with every single person who steps through that door.

‘Recommend’ is such an inadequate word for how we will continue to speak about Nan’s time at Forest Holme, and you can rest assured that you have a new family who will endeavour to continue supporting the hospice into the future.

There’s so much else I could say, so I’ll finish this off with the biggest THANK YOU and, when my own time comes, I only hope I will be able to receive the care and dedication that Nan experienced in her final few weeks thanks to your wonderful hospice.

You are all amazing.

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