“Ashgate Hospicecare allowed us to make the last days count and still create memories.”
Lucy Piekarski was only 15 when her father, Tony Piekarski, known to friends and family as Tony Pie, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Lucy reflects on the treatment Tony received from Ashgate Hospicecare, both at home and in the Inpatient Unit.
“I remember coming home one day in November, aged 15, to my Pap sat on the sofa. He wanted to talk. I knew he had been for some scans, but I never believed there would be anything wrong with him.
When I heard the words “stage 3 prostate cancer”, everything turned to slow motion. I never thought that what had happened to my Mum, who was my age when she had to experience her mother going through cancer, would happen to me. I kept pretending all the while that my dad would be fine.
From that day onwards, we all did what we could to make every day count and make sure that my Dad’s promises were fulfilled. He suffered with his illness for five years in all. Throughout that time, we gave up more and more of our commitments so that we could care for him. My education was always a priority with dad, so being at school during this time was very difficult for both of us.
We had always received regular visits from the Hospice at Home Team, but my brave-faced Papi had always refused any extra visits. It wasn't until he told us that we needed to start making decisions, that we realised he was in need of 24/7 care and pain symptom management and needed to go into the Inpatient Unit at the Hospice. It was a relief for our whole family when he came in. During my Dad's time here, The Ashgate Angels, as we liked to call them, were there to answer to his every need. They knew what to do better than us and they weren’t scared like us. They made what was an alien situation to us feel very normal.
Our family were able to rebuild many of the bonds that were strained over the years by the stresses of care-giving. When he came into the Inpatient Unit, we were able to spend valuable time together as a family. I was able to be a daughter again and my dad was able to be a dad. Before this, we had tended only to reminisce about the good old times together, however Ashgate Hospicecare allowed us to make the last days count and to still create memories. My dad was able to leave this world in the way he wished; pain-free and in peace with my mum, his best friend, by his bedside. I still have a broken heart, but I enjoy visiting the Hospice's beautiful gardens to speak with him, because I truly believe he is visiting me there too.”
“Not only did the Advice Line listen to me, they heard me.”
In October last year, Ashgate Hospicecare started an Advice Line pilot scheme. This ensures that a Palliative Care Specialist Nurse is available to talk 7 days a week from 9am – 5pm. They provide advice and support to patients, carers and health and social care professionals.
Jenny, who comes into the Day Hospice once a week, told us how the Advice Line helped her. A few weeks ago, due to her pain relief being reduced, Jenny experienced excruciating pain on a Friday morning at home. So, she decided to call the Hospice.
“I didn’t want to phone 999, so I called the Hospice and wasn’t sure if anybody would pick up. I was in a lot of pain and my husband was very worried about me. Fortunately, my call was put through to the Advice Line and I have to say, not only did the specialist nurses listen to me, they heard me.
I have cancer in my oesophagus and it’s untreatable, so I tend to downplay my pain levels with the GP. I know I’m untreatable and so I sometimes feel like I’m a burden, I feel like there are people who might need help more than me. However, at the moment when I called it really felt like an emergency. I was in so much pain.
When I spoke to the nurses they really made me feel like I mattered. They made me feel like a person and that I should be treated as such, rather than just another phone call. The Advice Line nurses told me who to call and in what order, and they endorsed my need for more medication. I wouldn’t feel comfortable making my own decisions about how much pain relief to take or when to ask for more.
They said they’d also call me the next day to see how I was on the Saturday and, much to my surprise, they did! They then called me each day until I was due to come back into the Day Hospice on the Tuesday. It was unbelievable. I have to say that they were the most kind, compassionate and knowledgeable team of people I have spoken to.
I have a great support base in my husband, my church and my friends, but when you’re in so much pain and don’t know what action to take, it can sometimes feel like you’re abandoned on the medical side of things. I know the NHS do what they can, but unfortunately they can’t offer the kind of personal care that I have received from the specialist nurses at Ashgate Hospicecare.
It is a miracle that the 7 day a week Advice Line came about just at the moment when I needed it. I’m so grateful for their help and I can’t stress that enough. It’s wonderful to feel so supported. I feel like I matter and I am more honest now about how I’m feeling and what kind of pain relief I need, plus I know exactly who to call now if I need them. I also know when to call 111 and feel less afraid to do that if needs be. The nurses told me that I can call the Advice Line 9am-5pm, seven days a week and it’s wonderful to know that they are there. It’s not until someone says that, that you really feel that you can call them.”
“The care feels very personal.”
When David Williams, now aged 69, first came to Ashgate Hospicecare, his quality of life had been deteriorating quickly. He told us about what it was like to be on the Inpatient Unit. Many months later, we had a catch up with David in the Day Hospice where he comes in one day a week.
In his first interview, David recalled the way our fantastic clinical staff did everything they could to make his time here as enjoyable as possible.
“I was sent to hospital where they announced that I had a brain tumour. After, I was sent to another hospital where they did a biopsy, they then arranged for me to have radiotherapy. I had 30 days of radiotherapy and that was it. I was told to come back in a few weeks to talk about chemotherapy. It was never fully explained to me why, how, what the effects are, what is going to happen to me, how it is going to affect my life...Luckily, I have a very supportive sister who is a retired ward sister. She was able to give me more information about it all. I’ve only ever had two stints in hospital before, so I had no idea how the medical system works!
When it finally dawned on me that I was terminally ill, it filled me with utter despair. I thought, What have I done to deserve all of this? I’ve always been somebody who is very healthy and does things every day of the week without fail, whether that’s walking, outdoor trips, reading, writing, or cycling etc. I bought a campervan when I retired and used to spend the summer months touring around Europe in it. I can’t do that anymore. I like to write books and research local history. I can’t do that anymore. I can’t go down to the record office and pore over 19th century scripts. I was hoping to organise an archaeological dig this winter, but I can’t now. It’s all gone. That’s when I decided to register with Dignitas, the Swiss euthanasia group. I joined it and paid the £140 joining fee. I felt so useless at that time.
Eventually, after the radiotherapy, they sent me back home to my little cottage in the Peak District. I was doing alright there for a few weeks, but then I started to have seizures. It got so bad that I was having up to 20 in a day, almost one every hour. One evening I came up the stairs, had a seizure and fell backwards down the stairs. I landed on my back, smacked my head on the wall and was taken to hospital.
During that time, I was losing weight and was constipated. When I would feel a seizure coming on in my arm, I’d start to press the buzzer before my arms and legs were tied up in knots. Each seizure didn’t last long but it was painful. One day, the physiotherapist said we should go out and stretch my legs. I got 10 feet down the corridor and my muscles seized up so I couldn’t stand up. I felt like I couldn’t do anything at all except lie there. I was completely debilitated.
After a referral to Ashgate Hospicecare I was moved in very quickly. They explained things to me and gave me medication that sorted out the seizures within a few days. I no longer have to sit with my finger on the buzzer constantly, so I can relax more.
I’ve improved a lot since coming here, I feel like I get looked after properly and my quality of life is much better. The ethos of the place is completely different. Many of the staff are local and they take the time to have a proper chat with you. The care feels very personal. I’ve already lectured some of the staff on travel and history! One of them even cut my hair the other day.
My friends and sister visit me often and I can sit outside on the terrace when the sun is shining. Plus, the food here is wonderful! You get cups of tea, cakes, jelly... even beer! I’ve put the weight back on now and I’m regular! Even though I still can’t do everything I used to do, I feel assured that the hospice staff will do everything they can to ensure my life now is as painless and dignified as possible.”
Months on, and David is now a regular visitor to the Day Hospice. Patients typically come in for one day a week. As well as running a number of different activities for the patients, which often involves members of the local community coming in to give talks and run sessions, attending the Day Hospice also gives patients the space to socialise and provides respite for family members, friends and other carers. This is particularly the case when a patient needs constant or complex medical attention. There is always a nurse or a consultant at hand, as well as complementary therapies such as massages and physiotherapy services. We took the opportunity to ask how David is feeling now, almost a year since he was first diagnosed.
“I’ve been feeling better since coming to the Day Hospice. I’m not experiencing any pain and I don’t feel ill. I’ve got hearing aids and now I just need to get my eyes sorted out. It’s better than sitting at home doing nothing because I can chat to people here. The staff are all friendly. Tim, the volunteer Chaplain, always makes me laugh! There’s another chap who usually comes in and sits next to me and we have a good discussion about 1960s and 70s music. In a moment, I’m going to get one of the Day Hospice volunteers to come over and cut my nails. Each week, I usually spend an hour or so with the physiotherapist in the gym, cycling and so on. Apart from that I sit and talk and have my lunch and they fetch me coffees and teas and biscuits. It’s little things like that that that mean it’s nice to come here.
If Ashgate Hospicecare hadn’t managed to sort out my seizures, I’m sure I’d be dead. I’ve not had any seizures since coming here. My leg’s still not quite right, but I’m not in any pain. I can walk, well, hobble, using the zimmer frame. If I don’t use it they tell me off!
As much as I would rather not be in this position, I can say that the hospice has been wonderful. When I was in the Inpatient Unit I still managed to go to the pub – one of my friends would fetch me and we’d go out. The hospice allowed me to do that even when I was very ill in the Inpatient Unit. Without being able to do things like that I would have been suicidal.
I’m a bachelor and I’ve always looked after myself and done my own thing. Having to rely on other people is somewhat odd, but now I think, I can’t do this by myself, somebody has to do this for me. I have carers from an external company coming into my home who are great. I’ve also had a stair lift fitted so I can get up and down the stairs. It’s been really necessary to have all the extra equipment. It’s wonderful to still be in my own home. I’ve had my kitchen and bathroom redone in recent years, so I would never want to move out. My neighbour, who is a longtime friend has also been wonderful throughout this time.
Two weeks ago my brother and his partner came up for the weekend so I didn’t come to the Day Hospice that day. I’m in here most weeks, although in November I’m planning on going down to Brighton to stay with my brother and have an adventure! I’ll be going to my sister’s again this year for Christmas.”
"Ashgate Hospicecare were really there for me during the hardest time."
When my mother, Vera, was diagnosed as terminally ill at age eighty-five, I was planning on spending the summer with her, but unfortunately she passed away in spring this year. It was all quite quick. We had a lovely Christmas and the New Year together, but after that she went downhill very quickly.
I lived 50 yards away so I was visiting her every day: cooking meals, doing her medicine, calling doctors, but it was clear that she could no longer live by herself. It was at that point that the health professionals, including those at Ashgate Hospicecare, got involved and we decided that she should move in with me.
This took much longer than expected as I needed to make some changes to my house to accommodate her needs. By the time mum moved in, her condition was really bad and she was only here for three and a half weeks in the end, but Ashgate Hospicecare delivered all the specialist equipment mum needed.
She had a reoccurrence of cancer. After a successful operation a few years ago to remove a womb cancer, she started to experience pains again. After many tests, they finally found a massive tumour in her abdomen, but by that time it was too late.
Mum received radiotherapy, but eventually she couldn’t be treated that way anymore. She was in a lot of pain from the tumour and it was then that we realised mum would need palliative care.
It was really stressful for me even with all the help the nurses provided. Fortunately, my employer allowed me time off so I was able to care for mum full-time during her final weeks. Even so I had no spare time. I pretty much devoted all of my time to looking after her. We used to go out for walks, but we couldn’t do that after she got much worse.
At first I was trying to get her to sit with me in the living room, but that didn’t last long until she was pretty much confined to the bed. She just didn’t want to do anything. It’s only a short walk to the bathroom but she was even struggling to do that. She had absolutely no strength, and she wasn’t eating. The cancer was in her stomach and you could see it bulging, it was really distressing to see. Trying to feed her was difficult. I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing by encouraging her to eat because, after all, it’s just prolonging the inevitable. It’s hard to describe just how difficult it is for one person to care for someone in that condition.
The worst time for me was when mum had a bowel movement just after the carers had been in to see her and wash her. I really needed help then because she was in such a state. In the end I had to get her in the shower by myself which was distressing for both of us. Mum still knew exactly what was going on. I got her sorted out, cleaned up, and changed the bed clothes and her nightie, but then an hour later a similar thing happened. As you can imagine, I was absolutely exhausted.
After that episode, I contacted Ashgate Hospicecare and they arranged for nurses from other services to come in on a more frequent basis. The speed of mum’s decline was such that this was crucial. By that stage you could tell that she had really given up and was happy to let the nurses do whatever was needed. At one point, I had four different people in the house at once caring for her! I thought it was amazing the way everybody dived in to help. However, there was so much going on that I started to lose track of who was doing what. It was out of my hands and quite bewildering, but I was certainly glad it was happening.
Ashgate Hospicecare were really there for me during the hardest time. One of the nurses started coming once a week for a whole afternoon. It wasn’t for many weeks, of course, but that was an essential relief. It gave me that respite I needed. Even though I was only going out to do the shopping, just being able to get out of the house for an hour or two was such a help. It was getting so difficult by that point; I don’t know what I would have done without that time to myself and I’m really grateful to Ashgate for that.
Even with that extra help, over the course of those last weeks, my energy levels seriously declined. I wasn’t sleeping properly as I was getting up to check on mum every few hours throughout the night, just to make sure she was alright.
Different nurses would come in everyday from different services including Ashgate, but then in the last week we started to see the same people more often. It’s nice to see those familiar faces, plus they knew mum’s condition and could make better judgements about what kind of help she needed. I phoned 111 a few times. They provided a decent service but it’s obviously not the same as being able to rely on 24-hour support from the same people.You end up having to explain the situation every time.
Mum didn’t want to go into a hospice or a home, so I’m fortunate that she was able to stay at mine until the end. However, the care she needed was too much for me to deal with on my own. Ashgate Hospicecare do such an amazing job, I can’t actually believe there are just seven support workers in the Hospice at Home team! We would have really benefited from a 24/7 service where we could have seen the same nurses whenever we needed them - at nights and weekends and those really difficult moments, but they obviously need more funding and more staff to make that service available.
"Thank you Ashgate Hospice for letting this happen. Thank you for extending Terry’s life and thank you for giving us the holidays of a lifetime.”
Emma Wilson, from Chesterfield in Derbyshire shares her story of the care her husband, Terry received at Ashgate Hospicecare. Terry Wilson, 53, had been suffering with bowel cancer for nearly three years. In July 2015, he received the devastating news that the cancer had spread to his kidneys and he only had three months left to live. Following numerous admissions to hospital, Terry was put in contact with Ashgate Hospicecare in July.
Emma said, "Terry always thought hospices were for older people, but having spent a week in here he couldn’t believe how caring all the staff were. From the dietitians to the rest of the staff, they were all amazing.
Once Terry's symptoms were effectively managed, he was discharged from the hospice and returned home after just 1 week on the Inpatient Unit. Terry was able to have a week in Cornwall and a weekend in the Lake District."
"The last holidays we had were amazing, Cornwall was one of Terry’s favourite places. He'd been going down to Cornwall since he was a child, and he and I always went once a year without fail. So, our wish of going back there, as a family was able to go ahead and I will never forget it."
"The two holidays that we had post Terry's admission into Ashgate, were to be the last of his life. But, had it not been for his week in Ashgate Hospicecare, they wouldn't have been possible, so for this, we will be forever grateful. The Hospice turned Terry's life around."
"Memories are not only in your mind but are also on photographs and I have lots of memories of Terry on our last holiday in the Lake District, mostly with our little grandson, Max. I look back on these photographs and sometimes I'm in tears and other times I just look back and think, "Gosh, thank you Ashgate Hospice for letting this happen. Thank you for extending Terry’s life and thank you for giving us the holidays of a lifetime."
In November 2015, Terry was readmitted to Ashgate Hospicecare and on the 15th of November, he sadly passed away.
Emma said, “Ashgate Hospicecare gave us all the facilities we required to be able to not leave Terry’s bedside in his final few days. None of us returned home for around 4 days, we had food, beds and showers. It was such a relief to know we had everything there that we could possibly need. This enabled Terry’s close family to be at his bedside during his final days which was one of his final wishes."
"I cannot fault anybody at this hospice. It is clean, it’s tidy, it’s well supervised and the nurses were fantastic with Terry."
"I’d like to say thank you to everybody at Ashgate Hospice for what they did for us whilst we were here and the support and care they have given me since. Thank you everybody."
Since Terry died, Emma, along with family and close friends have been heavily involved with Ashgate Hospicecare and its fundraising department. She took part in last year's Sparkle Night Walk and has re-entered for this year's as well.
Emma said, "My son along with close family friends who also have similar experiences have organised an annual golf day to raise money for the hospice and continue to plan this years event as we speak. I've personally done a few sponsored walks, but one of the best I went on was the Sparkle Night Walk. It was amazing and the atmosphere from start to finish was so much fun with lots of laughter whilst raising money for a great cause."
My mam, Dorothy Briggs.
My mam was diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2012 and it was ‘controlled’ until April 2015 when we were told it had spread to her lungs. Mam took it quite well but over a period of 2/3 months and her living alone, it became obvious she wasn’t coping well and wasn’t taking her medication correctly. The local district nurse, social services and palliative care nurses became involved and mam had all the equipment possible to help her cope at home. She was self-administering medication including morphine but became confused in her daily life and with her medication. She was admitted to a care home for respite care but unfortunately had a fall and broke her hip and was then admitted to hospital. It was a terrible time because we all thought we had lost her there and then. After an operation and a number of weeks in hospital it was decided she required special care and that was our introduction to Ashgate. Again we thought – hospice - end of life – it was a very scary time. Mam was very poorly
From the moment we arrived at the Hospice it just felt so right. All the staff were fantastic and fully explained what they were doing and why. After a few days mam started to look a little better and was more responsive and one day when I walked into her room she was sat up in bed looking like her old self. The nurses were always in and out, having a laugh and joke with mam and us. It was great, a real homely atmosphere; even to the extent that mam thought she was in another nursing home and kept saying that she would like to stay for good. One time when one of my brothers was visiting mam, it was a lovely day and the nurses opened up the French doors of her room and pushed her bed out into the court-yard so that they could chat and have a cup of tea in the sunshine. Soon after that day she was able to be hoisted into a wheelchair and we would push her around the beautiful gardens and sit in a quiet corner and talk or just take in the tranquil surroundings.
The gardens are always kept so beautiful. Mam loved Ashgate and everyone she came into contact with there – doctors, nurses and the volunteers who provide their time so freely. Everyone was so friendly to mam and to us. After a few weeks mam had to leave Ashgate as she was as well as she could be and required permanent nursing care, so we found her a home close to her family home. Unfortunately after a week she started to deteriorate again and 10 days after leaving the Hospice she passed away. That was on 22 August 2015. I know though that she was given care and love from everyone at Ashgate and I can’t speak highly enough of everyone there and will sing their praises to anyone and everyone for making my mam so happy during the last few weeks of her life. I will be eternally grateful to them and in recognition of the brilliant service that they provide I have taken part in the Sparkle Walk for the past 2 years (already signed up for next year) to help raise funds for the fantastic charity. My husband and other family members have also taken part and have also signed up for next year. I can only say that until you need the help and care from a special organisation as Ashgate Hospice, you don’t understand what they do. The whole experience of their care and support is so comforting to everyone that enters through the door. Each and every member of staff is truly an Angel in disguise. Thank you Ashgate from the bottom of my heart.
John and Mary
"After two weeks on the Inpatient Unit, I realised that I was in the very heart of the hospice and felt most humbled by the huge amount of tender loving care which fills its heart"
John Randles, (81), from Dronfield was diagnosed with heart problems in 2003. Having been referred to Ashgate Hospicecare by his GP, John was offered a bed on their Inpatient Unit where his symptoms could be effectively managed. In his own words, John wrote a letter to the team at Ashgate sharing his personal experience of the hospice. John said: “It all began after a bladder examination at Chesterfield Royal Hospital. Water retention developed until I could barely walk and a month of pills taken orally had not helped. My GP, knowing that a weak heart was part of the problem, arranged a visit to use the specialist treatments available at Ashgate Hospicecare.
"So there I was, bag packed and frightened of an unknown future. But I was soon calmed down by a coffee and a chat with the Activities Coordinator, who had a lovely southern Irish Cork accent. My treatment was carefully explained by the doctors. Slow but steady progress was made in the first week with various tweaks to my medication. “I felt short of exercise so asked for, and quickly received, a physiotherapist called Stephen. He put some exercises together for me with detailed information on how to get the best out of them. The exercises have rapidly improved my swollen legs and helped me to lose ten pounds in the second week, helped of course by Ashgate’s equipment. “After two weeks on the In-patient Unit, I realised that I was in the very heart of the hospice and felt most humbled by the huge amount of tender loving care which fills its heart. Besides the care, there are many regular physical checks. Bed sores, for example, have no chance to develop. The food is very, very nice, and with choices for each course, it is easy to overeat as the dishes seem designed to tempt. There are frequent surprises too such as Chantilly cream and Apple strudel! Perhaps most important is that everything is sparkling clean – there’s no risk of an upset tum from this food! “I’m going home a new man after careful treatment at the hospice.
I cannot thank the staff at all levels enough. The things I’ll remember the most are the happy giggles from staff trickling up and down the corridors, breakfast and a three course lunch served on a doily covered tray and a cheerful good morning.” Feeling upbeat and rejuvenated, John returned home but sadly died a few weeks later. His wife, Margaret, says: "Ashgate enabled John to have a few upbeat weeks at home and a holiday at Christmas which we are very grateful for. £450 was collected at his funeral which is being donated to the hospice."
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‘I’m so glad I’ve come’ because she kept saying how lovely everybody was and how they couldn’t do enough to help her.”
Nicki Kehoe was diagnosed with brain cancer in September 2013, just two weeks after her and her best friend Natalie had booked to go to Las Vegas. It was soon discovered that the brain cancer was secondary, and in fact the primary cause was lung cancer. Nicki was put in touch with Ashgate Hospicecare when she was first diagnosed, but it wasn’t until December 2014 that she was admitted to their Inpatient Unit. Natalie, 37, says: “Nicki wanted to stay at home and was a bit reluctant about going to the hospice at first. I think she saw going to the hospice as admitting defeat, and she didn’t want to do that. But in the end she did say ‘I’m so glad I’ve come’ because she kept saying how lovely everybody was and how they couldn’t do enough to help her.” Unfortunately, Nicki deteriorated quickly and died at the hospice on 15th January 2015 – just 3 weeks after she was first admitted. She was 42.
Although Nicki wanted to be at home, Natalie can find some comfort in knowing that her last few weeks were spent in a similar environment. “Ashgate is very different to other medical environments. It’s very welcoming and Nicki always had an influx of visitors. The whole family can come to visit at any time and although it’s still a hospital setting, it’s far better. Me, Nicki and her sister had a girls night in one night. We brought Mcdonalds and Baileys to the hospice and sat in Nicki’s room watching X Factor on the TV. It was like she had her own little home in her room. She had a pin board with pictures on it and her own blanket from home, so it felt really homely and less like a hospital. The staff are really lovely too – always asking if you wanted a drink.” In 2014, Nicki and Natalie organised a Zumbathon and craft fair which raised nearly £3,000 for Ashgate Hospicecare. Since Nicki’s death, Natalie has continued to fundraise for the hospice by running the 2015 Chesterfield Marathon.
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“I’m not sure what we would have done without the help of Ashgate Hospicecare."
Dave Johnson, 53, from Brampton was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer on Christmas Eve 2013. Despite undergoing chemotherapy to stabilise the tumour, which was successful to begin with, Dave was readmitted to hospital where he was put in touch with Ashgate Hospicecare. His daughter, Karlie, shares her story on the care provided to her dad in the lead up to his death.
Despite undergoing chemotherapy to stabilise the tumour, which was successful to begin with, Dave was readmitted to hospital where he was put in touch with Ashgate Hospicecare. His daughter, Karlie, shares her story on the care provided to her dad in the lead up to his death. Karlie, 23, says “I was devastated to find out that not only did my dad have cancer, but that it was also terminal. In August 2014, dad was admitted to hospital for sickness where he was told he would have to go on a liquid diet because he hadn’t been eating so his stomach had shrunk around the tumour.
The nurses at the hospital had someone from Ashgate Hospicecare come and talk with him about his diet, where they said they would help him with his eating so he could get the nutrition he needed. When dad left hospital, Helen – one of the Clinical Nurse Specialists at Ashgate Hospicecare – started visiting him at home to check how he was feeling. “Two weeks after his release from hospital, dad still wasn’t eating what he’d been given and wasn’t getting any better. My mum and I didn’t know what to do – we thought if we left him there he was just going to die. My mum called the doctor but could only get a telephone appointment for a few days later. So we called Ashgate Hospicecare instead in the hope that there was something they could do to help.
We had always known about the hospice as we knew people that had been there, but we didn’t know too much about how they worked. “Helen came out to have a chat with us and asked dad if he would like to have a bed at the hospice. Dad said he didn’t want to go there to die, but Helen explained that he would only be going there so they could give him around the clock care and get him back on his feet. She said he would probably only be there for around 2 weeks, so dad agreed and they got him a bed for the following week. “The day came for dad to go to Ashgate and we were all really nervous. None of us had ever had any experience with a hospice before and we wondered what it would be like. When we got there we were pleasantly surprised – it wasn’t like a hospital at all! Dad was shown to his room and they explained how it all worked. They said that if he wanted anything he just had to ask and they would try and get it for him. Failing that, we could always bring it in for him. He explained that he liked cold things like ice cream and ice lollies as they soothed his mouth and throat and were easy to eat. He was asked if he liked Baileys and said that he did, so right away they brought him a bowl of ice cream with some Baileys at the bottom and left him to settle in. “The doctors at the hospice visited dad every day to explain what they were going to do to help get him back on his feet. The care is definitely more personal to you than in a hospital and dad definitely relaxed at the hospice knowing that he was getting the care he needed. The facilities at the hospice were really amazing too.
Things that we take for granted like having a bath after a long day – that was all dad wanted and they allowed him to have one. He was given a private room too that had a patio with a table and chairs. It was like a little sun trap – we’d take dad out there when he was having a good day and we’d sit in the sun and eat chocolate and share cans of pop. I treasure those memories from his last few weeks, and it was Ashgate Hospicecare that made it all possible.” After just 4 weeks at the hospice, Dave sadly died on 7th October 2014 whilst Karlie was on holiday in Turkey. Karlie adds, “I’m not sure what we would have done without the help of Ashgate Hospicecare. They took a load off of our shoulders so we could just focus on dad and how he was. They were amazing from start to finish and always kept us in the loop. “To say thank you to the hospice for the amazing care they gave, I decided to do a skydive in memory of dad in early 2015 to raise money for Ashgate. Dad said he was going to do one for charity before he was diagnosed with cancer, so when he got poorly I said I would do it instead. I was waiting until he got better so he could come and watch, but sadly he passed away before I did it. After many months of fundraising, I finally did my skydive and managed to raise a grand total of £2067.06! I work at The Rose and Crown in Brampton and they’ve also pledged to raise £5,000 for the hospice’s £1 Million Urgent Bed Appeal.”
Do not be afraid of coming to Ashgate Hospice as you will get the best possible care with the aim of getting you back to your own home as soon as possible."
Phil Boulton, 66, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in November 2014. His story details the journey from early diagnosis to his stay in Ashgate Hospicecare. In November 2015, Phil was experiencing excruciating pain in his upper body and was immediately put on hormone therapy. He was also experiencing severe pain in his left knee which forced him to go to A&E. Phil was then prescribed painkillers and morphine due to the severity of his pain. After a routine blood test with the urologist, cancer deposits were identified on Phil’s last two vertebrae which was identified as the probable cause of all the pain he had been receiving.
Radiotherapy was scheduled for May, however, Phil’s leg was still in severe pain and his leg was extremely swollen. It was at this point, Phil was referred to Ashgate Hospicecare’s Lymphoedema unit and his story at the hospice began. Phil had attended appointments with the hospice’s Lymphoedema specialists in the latter stages of May, however realised soon after his pain relief wasn’t working and he couldn’t manage at home. He was then admitted to the hospice. “On admittance I found that the Hospice was a pleasant welcoming atmosphere where everyone knows your name and is much more relaxed than a hospital environment. It is a warm friendly environment where all the staff are eager to help and nothing is too much trouble.” After Phil’s admittance, his pain was stabilised and he was able to move around and sleep normally again. “It made me feel like I could manage my pain at home.” Phil also explained his experience of living inside the hospice and how his conception of hospices changed once he was admitted. “I was interested to note the reaction of people when I told them where I was, they all seemed to view the Hospice as “one foot in the grave” and probably I was as guilty as them.” “Do not be afraid of coming to Ashgate Hospice as you will get the best possible care with the aim of getting you back to your own home as soon as possible and ensuring you get the necessary assistance to be able to cope there. They will provide a caring co-ordinated program in a friendly environment.” “I would have no hesitation in coming back if necessary in the future and would choose Ashgate over the hospital. Now I am back at home I would like to thank all the staff at Ashgate, from the doctors to volunteers for making my stay as comfortable as possible and as short.” “I hope to be getting back to the golf course as soon as possible.”