When you say hospice, most people assume that the care is for people with cancer. I did.
On hearing that nurses from a local hospice were visiting my dad, a question came my mind.
Did he have cancer? I knew that he had pulmonary fibrosis, which means that lung function gradually deteriorates. But was there something else?
The answer was no. The hospice team were doling their daily work, caring for people who are at the end of their life, whatever the reason.
I have worked in healthcare for my whole career — 28 years this month. Yet I had made the assumption that hospices exist to look after people who have terminal cancer. Why had I never considered end of life care to be for all?
That is what this short blog is about. Simply because I wanted to share the right message in case other people were thinking the same. And I know some are from the responses I have had when talking about my dad.
Death and dying remain taboo in our society. There is much fear, mainly due to the unknowns.
We don’t talk about death as a part of life, despite it being inevitable for all of us. We will all experience the passing of people we know and love, and we will pass ourselves.
In some cultures, death is openly discussed and meditated upon to accept it as the cycle of life. In particular, Buddhism comes to mind. One of the tenets of Buddhist life is impermanence.
Impermanence refers to the fact that nothing stays the same. This is what makes life possible and can of course give great hope. For instance, no matter how you are feeling right now, it will pass.
Easing the discomfort of the discussion about death is possible by shifting the focus to living well. This is the view taken by Death Cafes that exist to widen our thinking and reduce the fear.
End of life care
Perhaps this is something we only consider when necessary. By the time it is, the importance is clear.
Each experience is unique. Everyone has their own set of needs and version of events.
Fortunately mine was positive. Having said that, losing a parent was surreal. The last few weeks and then days were accompanied by a knowing that the end was near, but never really knowing when. Time was suspended.
The one thread of consistency came from the hospice. The attention to caring, the frequency of contact with dad, and the little touches all made a difference.
Essentially, the staff use all their knowledge, skills and experience to make the journey as comfortable as possible. It sounds like a cliche yet what else would you ask for?
I became incredibly aware of the need for such care. I wondered how many people receive this attention? How many don’t? Everyone should.
This is the because, the reason for running the SDW this weekend (in just over 12 hours). Raising money is always a bottom line and I’m so grateful for all those who have donated so far. I know there is more to come too. We will exceed the target. But….
To me, what is more important is having this conversation. Raising the awareness of the work that the hospice staff do each day for people who need care at the end of their life, whatever the reason.
Raising awareness I think will result in more donations and funding as people will organically realise the importance. That’s my hope anyway.
If you agree, then you may like to support St Wilfrid’s, Eastbourne. Whatever you can spare would be much appreciated, a few quid, a tenner, £20, £50 or £100. It all helps.
See here for Richmond’s Just Giving page.
On the trail
I’ll be heading off from Winchester about 8/830am tomorrow morning. If you see me, give me a wave. If you fancy trotting along for a few miles, do.
On we go.