More and more of our patients are choosing to spend their last days in the comfort of their own home, something that is made possible thanks to our Hospice at Home service and all of our other specialist teams who work in the community.
For many patients having the choice of deciding where they spend their final days is very important. Our Hospice at Home team enables patients to remain at home, if that is their wish, to die free from pain with dignity surrounded by the people and the things they love.
Lynda Edwards, from Newtown, is one of a number of Severn Hospice at Home nurses who work in communities across Shropshire and North Powys. When she’s not caring for patients in their own home, Lynda also runs our Day Hospice in Newtown.
“My job as a Hospice at Home nurse has led me to meet lots of interesting and special people,” says Lynda. “I think this was eclipsed in January 2012 when I was asked to look after a gentleman who wished to die at home in his shed.”
Lynda reveals that despite reassurances from the District Nurse Team, she had her reservations about what she would find when she visited the patient and the practicalities of caring for someone in such an unconventional setting.
“When they first told me about the shed my imagination ran wild. A garden shed or a tool shed or maybe even a garage came to mind. I thought how could I possibly look after someone until their death within what I perceived to be the ‘confines’ of a wooden shed?”
On her first visit to see the gentleman, Lynda’s initial concerns were quickly dispelled.
“I duly headed out on my first night and walked down the garden path.
“I found my patient settled in a small but perfectly adequate bed by a large window overlooking the garden from where he could also see the house.
“This was no ordinary shed but a fully insulated, high ceilinged room that was light and airy yet warm and cosy too. There was muted lighting, scented candles with French jazz playing in the background. Taking pride of place was a handmade railway with small towns, animals, people and even lighting in some of the properties.
“It was obvious that this was a well loved space. Somewhere he had come every day to listen to music, watch a film or to ‘jam’ with his friends. No wonder he wanted to stay put.
“And that’s what he did. He stayed in his shed with his family and friends coming and going, listening to music, talking a little and sleeping a lot.
“He died very peacefully there a week later with the lights of his railway, his music and candles with his wonderful family around him.
“I really cannot emphasise enough how important it is that our patients are given the opportunity to decide where they want to be at the end of their life.
“For some being at home is the obvious choice, it’s what they know and love, familiarity with their own things around them and of course their family and friends there too. For others being at the hospice will be right, with family and friends able to come and go freely and be included in all aspects of their care.
“I feel given the choice people know what they want, to feel safe and secure, cared for and looked after. After all isn’t this what all of us would want, the choice.”