News

In Memory of Michael Clarke

When people find out they are coming to Eden Valley Hospice they often feel nervous, apprehensive and uncertain about what will happen when they arrive. Finding out that you are going to a hospice during a global pandemic can be a daunting prospect for anybody and any family.

Earlier this year, Eden Valley Hospice began to provide care, support and compassion to Michael Clarke, his family and friends.

Michael’s daughter, Shona, explains:

“After undergoing an emergency operation to treat his Bowel Cancer, I received a phone call from the hospital to say ‘We’ve got a bed in the hospice for your Dad, but he said you can look after him at home and he doesn’t want to go.’

“My heart dropped. I knew my Dad’s thoughts on the hospice - this is somewhere you go to die, but also - how can I look after him at home? Of course I would, but I didn’t know how. Admittedly I also thought - is this it?

“Due to Covid-19, I was advised that we needed to make a decision fast as the bed at the hospice was only secured for so long.

“Lockdown had already come into play and visiting had been limited to set times at the hospital, but I asked the nurse ‘Please, I can’t have this conversation with my Dad over the phone. He’ll be terrified, can I not come in to talk to him?’

“It was agreed that I could pop down for ten minutes. I explained to my Dad that of course I would look after him at home, but in order to do that, I needed to be trained and have some support in place but the safest thing now was to get out of the hospital where he was already at risk of contracting Covid-19. Reluctantly he agreed, but I could tell he didn’t believe that this was only a short-term measure.

“The next day I got a phone call to say he would be transported to the hospice from the hospital and I could meet him there. Knowing how terrified he would be, I set off and made sure I got there before him.

“Sat in the car park not knowing what to do, I rang the number for the hospice, explained who I was and that my Dad was on his way. A cheery voice on the other end said you can come to his room if you like and wait. We’ll get you a coffee.

“A nurse met me at Reception and as I explained how worried I was for him, knowing how afraid he would be, she responded ‘What on earth for, we’ll get him back on his feet. It’s not just somewhere you come for end of life treatment.’

“Off to the room we went and as soon as we walked in a feeling of home hit me and I told myself, ‘This is fine, we can do this. He’ll be just fine here.’

“Shortly after an ambulance arrived and in walked two Paramedics with Dad in a wheelchair looking very lost and vulnerable. I was pleased I was able to be there to
greet him.

“After tea, coffee and meeting some of the lovely staff, we both started to unwind. I thought this is fine, he is safe and I knew straight away he would be well looked after. The room was spacious, brightly decorated and looked out onto the gardens, he had his own private bathroom, TV, WIFI. It was like home from home and there was a feeling of peace and tranquillity.

“Dad soon settled in and to our joy and disbelief they soon had him eating again and for once in a long time he seemed to have his spark back. We were able to visit as and when we liked, although due to Covid-19 restrictions in place we were confined to his room.

“A few nurses apologised for this and apologised that ‘Dad was unable to see the full benefits of the hospice.’ I remember thinking if this is what it’s like on a restricted version, I can’t imagine what it would be like normally day to day.

“Nothing was too much, Dad was met with a three-course menu choice each day and he joked to me ‘this is like an all-inclusive spa break’ and he meant it. His stay did him the world of good an enabled him to come home following an operation where he was given a 13-15% survival rate.

“He said ‘I don’t just press a button and someone comes running. I press a button and three or four pile in.’ The hospice was immaculate, and the staff were beyond caring.

“Two weeks later he was back home and being cared for. Dad and the family were met with the upmost respect, dignity, care and compassion. Access to the Doctors, Nurses and always a smile and warmth from the nurses. The home cooked food was amazing. I know, as admittedly I did have a few spoonfuls of Dad’s meals.

“On leaving, Dad was asked ‘Would you come back then?’ ‘Without a doubt!’ was his response and I do think he was reluctant to come home.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. The time, care and genuine support put into his care will never be forgotten.”

Sadly, Michael died in June after leaving Eden Valley Hospice. You, our supporters, enabled our key workers to be there for Michael, Shona, John and their families when they needed the vital care, support and compassion from the hospice the most.

Throughout the coronavirus situation Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw have been absolutely committed to supporting the local community. The hospice has treated local people with the virus, ensuring every family cared for received care filled with compassion and dignity.