Time and space by the sea

It’s not every day that our patients ask to go to the seaside for a strawberry ice-cream, but when a lady in our Inpatient Unit recently put in that request, our physiotherapy team of Jen Wakelin and Bev Tonks went to great lengths to make it happen. Here, Jen explains how meeting such wishes means so much for our patients and families, and how putting patients’ choices at the very centre of their care adds immeasurably to the quality of their experience of Rowcroft.

“We wanted to do everything in our power to facilitate this trip to the seaside,” says Jen. “While we knew there were some complex logistics to bear in mind with regard to care, we could see how important this trip was to the lady and her family. She had been managing to get into our hospice gardens by wheelchair, and she could see the sea from there, but it soon came to light that she really wanted to go to the seafront with her family, to spend some quality time away from the hospice, and to recreate a family day out on the coast complete with ice-creams.

“Bev and I drove the lady to Torquay seafront with her oxygen and a wheelchair, and the family walked to the seafront to meet us there. We gave the family space and time to walk ahead while Bev and I followed some distance behind. I think the family felt reassured to have us there, just in case there were any panics with the oxygen or any other problems. It was clear she loved being there, and she said that it helped her to feel like a normal person again, not just a patient.

“Everything went smoothly and the family sat on a bench to have their ice-creams. It was wonderful to see them enjoying that quality time together, taking selfies and creating precious memories, doing all the usual things that a family would do on a special outing to the sea, with the hustle and bustle of normal life carrying on as usual all around them.

“There’s something so therapeutic and beneficial about being by the sea – breathing the fresh sea air, and focusing on the beautiful seascape that gives a feeling of space, timelessness and freedom.

“Following this trip, the family gained confidence, and with the lady’s condition stable, she’s been able to go on a couple more outings with her family, returning each time to the hospice. She’s travelled to the seaside again, and she’s visited her family in their homes.

“Though we do our best to keep everything as homely as possible in our Inpatient Unit, it’s lovely for people to have a change of scene if they’re feeling up to it, and to spend quality time with loved ones away from the hospice, even if it’s just for an hour or two.

“I feel it’s a massive privilege to work as a physiotherapist at the hospice, supporting people to maintain their strength, mobility, endurance and function. Our aim is always to ensure that patients’ choices are at the very centre of the care they receive so that they are in control of their experiences.

“When I reflect on our outing to the seaside, it was a quite emotional time for the family, as it was for Bev and I too. We could truly see how much it meant.  In living by the sea, it is an experience that we almost take for granted but should treasure more when experiencing patient’s wishes.”

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