When a patient arrives at the hospice they either turn left or right depending on if they are visiting us for the day or staying with us on one of our wards.
Making the decision to turn left or right is something most of us wouldn’t give a second thought to, but for Alan Cartwright from Telford that decision was a significant one. Alan has been bringing his wife Ann to our Day Hospice in Telford since November 2014, when they arrived at the hospice they would always turn left and make their way down the corridor to the day centre. When Ann’s health deteriorated and she experienced increased pain, she came to stay with us on the ward to help get her symptoms under control.
One Monday morning instead of turning left as they have always done, they turned right.
“For the last six months my wife Ann has been attending the hospice in Telford,” says Alan. “When we arrive we turn left and head towards the Day Hospice, to what was familiar. However, one Monday when we arrived at the hospice it was time for us to turn right as Ann was being admitted to the ward.
“For Ann turning right was difficult, but as she had previously visited friends staying on the ward she knew what to expect. For me, turning right was something unfamiliar and scary. My perception of turning right was that we were heading to a dark place with only one way out; I now know that turning right is not at all what I was expecting.
“Some people assume that once you go into a hospice, you are there to stay. They don’t realise that a lot of people are admitted to the hospice for help with things like pain control and other symptoms of their illness. Ann had been experiencing severe pain so when we were offered a bed on Alexander ward for a course of pain management, additional help and support, it seemed to be the obvious way forward.
“When we got the phone call saying there was a bed available we made our way to the hospice and with some apprehension, mostly on my part, we turned right and entered a very different world to what I was expecting. Everyone, doctors, nurses, patients and partners were referred to by their first name. The primary concern of all the healthcare professionals was Ann and her treatment. I will never forget the degree to which Ann and her needs were the centre of everyone’s attention and how they involved me when discussing her treatment and care plan. Everything was fully explained to both of us, the doctors and nurses were able to spend time with us to answer our questions.
“10 days later, when Ann’s pain was under control, it was time to discuss her coming home. We were both involved with a family meeting where we discussed the support and assistance available to us both going forward. We were both keen to get home, but we cannot speak highly enough of the treatment and care we were both fortunate to receive during Ann’s stay on the ward.
“The following Monday we found ourselves once again in reception at the hospice but this time we turned left, back towards the Day Hospice, where were received a warm welcome. When I came to collect Ann in the afternoon there were a number of staff members who I had met during Ann’s stay on the ward, it was like returning home to a welcoming family.
“Turning right was an experience, and for me a very positive one. It turned out to be an opportunity that enhanced the life of my beloved wife Ann, and my own. No one knows what is round the corner but I know ‘the hospice family’ will continue to support us both. I know we couldn’t do this on our own but with the hospice, we will never be on our own.”
Since recording this story Ann has passed away peacefully at our Telford hospice on Tuesday 13th October.