The members of the Drein family know why Rowcroft’s end-of-life care is so important. Last year, when Martin Drein was alone in hospital with just days to live, his family was unable to visit him due to COVID restrictions. But with the help of Rowcroft’s Hospice at Home team, Martin was able to transfer back to his home in Paignton, to be cared for in his final days with his loved ones by his side. In this moving blog, Martin’s son Joe and daughter Steph explain how it was the expert care provided by the Hospice at Home team and the loving comfort of having the family around that made the world of difference in helping Martin to pass away peacefully – he was able to feel the warmth and love of his family at a time when he needed it most, and his loved ones were left with treasured memories to cherish forever.
“At the time, it was really early into the pandemic,” says Joe. “He was admitted to the hospital and due to the uncertainty, none of the family were allowed to see him. Even my mum wasn’t allowed to visit him. The fact that Rowcroft were able to give him the care from home that he needed meant his whole family were able to be there when he passed.
“What it meant to be able to see him and talk to him in the final days is hard to put into words. It meant we could say goodbye on our terms and in our way and it allowed him to be in a place where he was able to relax and be himself rather than spending his final days in hospital. It gave us those final few days to get to hear his laugh again, see his smile again and enjoy his company again. It enabled us to enjoy his last few days rather than just mourn over them. We knew he wasn’t well, but rather than seeing him for a few hours in unknown, hospital surroundings, we were able to enjoy his company, have a drink and listen to his favourite music. We were able to have our family as a whole again for one last time.
“The team were incredibly caring. My dad felt at ease with the Rowcroft team so there was no awkwardness or uncertainty, which meant he was comfortable and relaxed. This meant the world to us. Because he was relaxed, he could be his usual, larger-than-life self. We will be forever in Rowcroft’s debt for giving us such an amazing service and allowing us to spend those final moments with my dad.”
Martin’s daughter, Steph, was also able to be by Martin’s side in his final hours. She explains how she and the family made the most of that time together:
“Once he was home, my siblings and I were finally able to see him and say our goodbyes in person. He was our whole world and our hearts have been completely broken. To be honest, I don’t know how I would have coped if I wasn’t able to hug him and say ‘I love you to bits’ one last time.
“As children we used to have family movie nights, where we would put the sofa cushions on the sitting room floor and watch a film all together. It usually meant that we would all end up sleeping in the sitting room together.
“When Daddy was brought home, he stayed in the sitting room. On the night before he passed away, we all got together, played his favourite music and slept in the sitting room together as we did when we were children. We were all there when daddy passed, which meant he wasn’t alone, which was very important to us. Instead he was surrounded by his family, who love and adore him and will forever miss him.
“These are memories that will stay with me forever. Sometimes I think back on it with a smile; other times it makes me cry. I cannot thank the Rowcroft Hospice at Home team enough for giving me those final memories.”
Each year across 300 square miles of South Devon, Rowcroft’s Hospice at Home team cares for around 430 patients in their last two weeks of life, providing free specialist nursing care at home and 24/7 support, and playing a vital role in supporting families facing the hardest days imaginable. The team help to manage symptoms, provide effective pain relief, attend to personal needs, offer emotional support, and give family carers a much-needed break, being there day and night to provide comfort and care.
Steph and Joe’s own experience of loss has inspired them to help others who are bereaved. They run a local funeral planning service – Memento Vita (Remember Life) – in Torquay, and they kindly donate 5% of the profits to Rowcroft. Offering a range of services that are completely free to use on both their App and website, Memento Vita allows users to easily access and find all the information they need to organise a loved one’s funeral. Part of this service includes a comprehensive checklist which helps users to organise all the elements of a funeral – from searching for funeral directors, venues, and florists to help with post-life documentation, and help in coping with loss. See mementovita.co.uk