"When you experience the love and care that Ashgate provides, it’s very difficult to turn your back and walk away.”
Julie Colton was admitted to Ashgate Hospicecare in September 2014 as the symptoms from her brain tumour were becoming too difficult to control. She spent the last 4 months of her life on the hospice’s Inpatient Unit before she sadly died on 21st January 2015.
Her sister, Karen Simpson, says “I wanted to share my experience of Ashgate Hospicecare because it became such a big part of my family’s life for such a long time. During those 4 months Julie was on the ward, she made a huge impression on all of the staff with her whit and strength of character. But for us, knowing that she was cared for and that they could control her symptoms gave us the peace of mind we so desperately longed for.
“At Christmas, Julie was determined to come home and spend Christmas Day with the family like we always had. It wasn’t unusual for 20 of us to gather and have Christmas dinner together. However, because Julie was so desperately poorly it was obvious that she wasn’t well enough to return home. So one of the lovely doctors suggested ‘If you can’t go to them then why don’t we bring Christmas to you!’ So that’s what we all did. The day room became our own with family and friends surrounding Julie’s bed. It was incredibly emotional and a very precious memory that will stay with us for a very long time.
“Julie passed away 3 days before my niece Ruby had organised a Winter Walk to raise some much needed funds for the hospice. The walk exceeded everyone’s expectations and the total is still rising. So far we have raised over £13,000 with donations collected from different events all pooled together in Julie’s memory. When you experience the love and care that Ashgate provides, it’s very difficult to turn your back and walk away."
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“Everybody knows your name too which makes you feel like part of the family"
Peggy Drury, 78, has heart failure, arthritis, diabetes, fluid retention and serious kidney problems. She was referred to Ashgate Hospicecare’s Inpatient Unit to help with her symptom management and has since returned home after the consultants and nursing staff got her symptoms under control. Peggy wanted to share her story so decided to write a letter describing her experience of the hospice.
Peggy says, “When my nurse said she would like me to go to Ashgate Hospice for treatment, I couldn’t believe it! ‘A hospice?’ I said. ‘Me? You must be kidding!’ A hospice, I thought, is where people with cancer go to spend the last few weeks of their life. How wrong could I be! The hospice is nothing like that. People come in for all sorts of reasons.
“On my arrival I was wheeled into the hospice and the lady on reception said ‘Hello Peggy’, which I found very impressive and welcoming. I was then taken to my bay on the ward which was bright and airy. The bay is for three patients but I was lucky enough to have it to myself for a few days. My bed was in the bottom corner of the bay next to two large windows and French doors that open onto a paved patio. I suffer with claustrophobia so I was allowed to sleep with the curtains drawn back at night and have the light on a low glimmer which was great. The nursing staff, or ‘Ashgate Angels’ as I call them, are unbelievable. They’re there to help you get better and aren’t just working for the pay cheque at the end of the month. They’re all very friendly and helpful and nothing is too much trouble for them. They went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and the doctors took a personal interest in my progress which was nice.
“Everybody knows your name too which makes you feel like part of the family. Even the housekeepers knew my name and would always make the effort to stop and have a chat with me. Meal times were always something to look forward to because they are so varied. They make the creamiest porridge in Great Britain and a super cup of tea! The tea trolley in the afternoon is a great idea – there was always lots to choose from. The people that serve you your meals are mostly volunteers and they do a grand job – my hat goes off to them!
“There is the sweetest Chapel at the hospice that has a beautiful stained glass window and a very calm and relaxed feeling when you go in. The Chaplains are lovely guys as well. I’m not religious but that didn’t stop them from having a chat and a laugh when they passed by which was lovely.
“I must admit I’ve had my eyes opened to what a hospice is like, which is nothing like I had imagined. To know such a pleasant and friendly place exists has been an education. It’s such a change in this day and age to see people being so nice to each other. Hats off to you Ashgate – congratulations on a job well done. I will always be grateful to you all.”