Patient & Family Stories

Bethany’s story

Here Bethany one of the Hospice’s HCA’s shares her story around why she does her role, what motivates her and even how she manages to stay awake through the night.

How long have you been a HCA with the Hospice? 

Only 2 and a half months

 

What is it that drew you to apply for the role?

To be a part of someone’s life right at the end and still make such a positive impact was really important and motivating for me

 

What do you enjoy most about the role?

The thing I enjoy most about the role is the reason I applied in the first place, the positive impact we have, making things easier for the patient and their families.

 

What does the role involve?

The role involves anything from personal care needs but mainly giving emotional support to the patients and their carers , allowing them someone to talk to in the middle of the night when they can’t sleep and are worried or anxious about something. We also provide the respite for carers for them to have a break as well so they have time for themselves and don’t go into carer crisis.

 

Is it hard staying awake all night? And how do you manage it (have you got any little tricks or tips you use to stay awake)

It can be, no matter how much you sleep during the day there comes a time when your body is fighting to go to sleep.

Best thing that keeps me awake is keeping busy and keeping myself occupied. If the patient is sleeping and I’ve done all my jobs, I’ll try and watch TV or out something on the IPad to keep me occupied!

 

What difference do you think your role has on patients and their loved ones?

A massive difference, we are there at a time that can be a very dark time for some people so being there for them providing the emotional support they need can really shine a light on their day or night! Its having someone to talk to as sometimes they don’t want to speak to their families as they don’t want to worry or trouble them. So us being there and building that bond with them, they will open up and speak to us.

 

Why should people get involved in the Big Stay Awake campaign?

People should get involved just to see how hard it can be to stay awake through the night when all your body want to do is sleep! Plus we demand on the service continues to be constant and so any funds that are raised can help us all continue supporting patients in their homes where they are happiest and most comfortable. While giving their loved ones a much needed break.

 

Lynsey’s Story

You treated us like Family’

 

“Kindness is having the ability to speak with love, listen with patience and act with compassion” RAKtivist.

 

Whoever spoke these words is a stranger to me. For what reason they were spoken no one can say. But I find myself grateful to a stranger for giving me the words to express how I feel about the staff and volunteers at Hospice of the Valleys.

They came to us at our most difficult time when my mother had been diagnosed with cancer.

Kindness, patience and compassion was in abundance along with an expert duty of care and a gentle and professional demeanour towards tasks that needed to be done.

They came to us at all hours of the day and night giving us the help and support we needed and putting our minds at rest knowing my mother was in good hands.

Jonathan, from the Family Support team, supported me in a way that no one else has ever done, and our chats together helped me overcome some anxieties and come to terms with my mother’s passing. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions we spoke outside under a shelter at the Hospice and his calming words seemed to blend with the scenery. The hills, the trees, and the leaves seemed to rustle and speak in calming whispers.

The Hospice refused to let the pandemic hinder either treatment or care and whenever new restrictions or regulations threatened them in carrying out their duties, they found a way around it. Nurses and carers still came, and we slept at night because they continued to provide the support we needed.

The staff and volunteers at the Hospice were once strangers to us, but they treated us like their family.

 

Written by Lynsey Wheeler on behalf of her late mother Ann Wheeler, her father Brian Wheeler and sister Catherine Wheeler

A Day in the Life of Hospice at Home

My name is Alison and I work as a Health Care Assistant (HCA) for the Hospice at Home (H@H) Team at Hospice of the Valleys, we care for patients overnight in their own homes, within the Blaenau Gwent area.

I wanted to share my experience of working as a HCA  for the hospice throughout the Coronavirus pandemic and how my colleagues and I have had to adapt to continue to provide care safely to vulnerable patients of the Hospice at Home Service.

A typical shift starts at 10pm when I arrive at the patient’s home ready to provide care overnight whilst the family catch up on some much needed rest, knowing their loved one is being cared for and all of their needs are being met during the night.

Before Coronavirus, I would arrive at my patient’s home dressed in my uniform, however since the pandemic many things have changed and now I arrive in full personal protective equipment (PPE).  This includes an apron, gloves and a surgical face mask to help protect my patient, their family and myself.

Initially I found arriving in full PPE difficult, especially if it was the first time meeting the patient and family.  They were unable to see my face and it just seemed so impersonal not being able to see my facial expressions or a friendly smile at such a difficult time in their lives.  I found myself using my eyes more when communicating so that they could read me a little better when I was talking, though it did not feel natural it made it a little easier.  The face mask also made communicating difficult, it can muffle speech and I felt it was a little harder to breathe easily when talking.

Wearing full PPE for a 9 hour shift could be very uncomfortable especially during the summer months when there were some very hot nights.  The fitted masks over a long period, would leave marks on my face and make my nose sore, but they were very much needed to keep everyone safe.

During the night I often provide emotional support, when needed, for both patients and their loved ones. To be honest, I have  found it very difficult not being able to give a comforting hug or hold someone’s hand when they were upset and in need of some comfort at a very difficult time in their life.  I could only show empathy with words and on times all a person wants and needs is a comforting hug.  I am a caring person by nature which is why I work in palliative care and not being able to offer this contact made it extremely hard for me.

I am immensely proud to work as part of the Hospice at Home Team and feel very privileged to be invited into a patient’s home to provide care at such an emotional and difficult time in their lives.  I have met some wonderful families during my 5 years working for the hospice and I’m proud to work with such a great multi-disciplinary team providing invaluable clinical care and support to the people of Blaenau Gwent.

Stay safe everyone in these challenging times, we will get there together.

Alison Foote, Health Care Assistant

Childhood Bereavement

It is estimated that 92% of young people experience some form of bereavement by the age of 16 in the UK.

The vast majority of children will cope with support from their family, friends and school community, but for those who are unable to be supported in this way, the Hospice bereavement team may be able to help.

Although grief is a normal life experience Western society tends to avoid talk about death and dying which can make some of us reluctant to talk about grief, particularly to children and young people.  At the Hospice, specialist bereavement practitioners are on hand to provide support.  Children cope and respond best when supported by those trusted adults in their life who know them best. We can support family members to find the words to talk to their children and offer reassurance.  We offer consultancy and training to professionals to raise awareness of bereavement and grief in children and young people and how to support someone who is bereaved.

The Hospice can also offer individual support for those with more complex bereavement needs.

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