For many people coping with an incurable illness, the chance to end their days in the comfort of their own homes is priceless. MARION SAUVEBOIS meets the dedicated carers whose unstinting work makes this happen
DAY and night without fail a team of nurses is on call to treat and alleviate the pain of patients reaching the end of their battle with incurable illness.
Prospect@Home staff allow sufferers to spend their final moments in the familiar and comforting setting of their own homes, surrounded by their families and shrouded in fond and reassuring memories.
Manned by nurses and health professionals, it was launched in 2008 after the generosity of Adver readers allowed the hospice to raise £250,000 towards the much-needed service.
Up until then, patients with no nightly home care available from the charity had no choice but to be hospitalised to stabilise their increasingly debilitating catalogue of symptoms.
Prospect@Home is a crutch and offers welcome respite to often exhausted carers and relatives for up to 24 hours a day.
Prospect at home team, left to right,staff nurses Jan Czerniak, Hayley Kenealy, health care assistant Julie Ward and Prospect at home team leader Jane Green
Crucially its team of committed nurses helps families alarmed at the prospect of caring for someone with complex medical needs and no notion how by shouldering the burden with them.
“A lot of people prefer to stay at home, “said Jane Green, Prospect@Home team leader. “But before 2008, the hospice did not have nurses that could look after patients for a length of time at home. It was a service that was really needed and it’s growing.
“We look after them on a practical level and offer emotional support. Patients are nursed in bed, we help them bathe and we do everything the hospice’s in-patient service would do but at home.
“It means that patients are where they want to be and that families get the support they need so they can be the best carers they can be because it’s very hard to care for somebody at home. It allows the carers to recharge and sustain them. We feel really lucky to be doing this sort of work.”
The 20-strong team spend around 9,000 hours each year caring for terminally-ill residents at home. They are currently supporting 25 people, some with fast-deteriorating conditions.
More than medical staff, nurses are a friendly and reassuring presence for everyone involved and soon become an integral part of the family dynamic.
“What we do makes a huge impact,” said staff nurse Hayley Kenealy. “It gives them reassurance especially at night. Everything is a lot worse at night, emotions get heightened.
“We allow the families to get a good night’s sleep. But sometimes the families stay up and want to chat with us.”
Her colleague Jan Czerniak added: “Families are afraid of the unknown. They often feel more confident once they have seen us dealing with certain situations. They feel like they can do it too. We deal with patients medically but there is a lot of emotional and psychological support involved.”
Learning to cope with the inevitability of each patient’s death demands great resilience but mostly a strong belief in the importance of their work for hundreds of patients and families thrown in the deep end and at a loss to keep their heads above water.
“You build trust and a relationship with patients and their family and it’s a privilege and an honour to meet them and help them,” said health care assistant Julie Ward. “We are touched by everybody we look after. We all feel pride.”
How to get involved...
By cheque: With the donation form in today's Adver
By card: Online through the donate now button, www.prospect-hospice.net
In cash: Prospect Hospice reception in Wroughton, Prospect Hospice retail shops or the Swindon Advertiser office Prospect Hospice can also take card donations over the phone – contact the fundraising team on 01793 816161
Taking part in an event for Prospect? Why not donate through our appeal – let us know via email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01793 501806.