Judith McMahon and her husband John from Paignton hadn’t intended to involve Rowcroft in John’s care; Rowcroft wasn’t on their radar. But when John’s pain became unbearable and Judith didn’t know what to do, she realised that they needed help. Looking back, she reflects on why seeking support from Rowcroft was one of the best decisions she ever made.
“My husband John had a brain tumour and he deteriorated really rapidly,” says Judith. “Initially, we didn’t want any help because we’re quite private people. But on the Sunday morning, John started to have pain and I just didn’t know what to do. I rang Rowcroft and within ten minutes a nurse was with us, helping to ease his pain. Later though, the pain got worse so a nurse from the team came out to administer morphine. I decided then that I would like someone from Rowcroft’s Hospice at Home team staying with us because I realised I just couldn’t manage this on my own.
“The nurses couldn’t have been any nicer or better. The care that these wonderful nurses gave made me feel calm and I felt we were in safe hands. It was clear they knew what they were doing – they were patient, caring, kind and professional, and John wasn’t in pain any more. The nurses were in the house in such an unobtrusive heart-warming way. They tended to John’s needs, monitoring the pain, and if they felt he was in pain a nurse would come out really quickly with more morphine. It was such a relief. The nurses made me feel much calmer knowing that I’d done the right thing having John at home.
“On the second evening, I was woken by the nurse who said ‘I think John’s going’. I managed to hug him and he opened his eyes and he died in my arms. So how amazing is that? I can’t describe it. To see him relaxed, and for him to be able to die peacefully in a dignified way, it makes such a difference to my life now. The team made an unbearable experience bearable for me.
“It was very important that John passed away at home. We’ve got lovely sea views from our house, so right up until the end he was able to look at the sea.”
Last year, Rowcroft’s dedicated Hospice at Home team cared for over 500 patients at home in their last two weeks of life. Covering a wide area of South Devon – from Dartmouth to Dawlish and up onto Dartmoor – the specialist nurses and healthcare assistants help people to make every day the best day possible, and enable families to make the most of every precious moment.
With increasing numbers of local people requiring end-of-life care at home, Rowcroft has launched the ‘Hospice at Home’ Appeal to raise vital funds to meet this growing need. The money raised from the appeal will enable Rowcroft to recruit more staff to care for an additional 290 patients per year.
“I just don’t know what I would have done without the Hospice at Home team,” says Judith. “I wouldn’t have been able to manage, and John wouldn’t have been able to be at peace.
“I hope that this wonderful, wonderful service, can be expanded. It’s such a huge relief to people to know that someone from Rowcroft can come out. It made such a difference to me and to John.”
To find out more about Rowcroft’s Hospice at Home Appeal, or to make a donation, please go to www.rowcrofthospice.org.uk/home