3-9th October is Hospice Care Week, and we are looking at what Hospice care means to people. For us, #hospicecareis... It is about creating memories, and this patient and his family certainly did that.
Mick Howell had managed the 16th Century Salisbury Hotel in Hertford with his wife Sharon, for 16 years. It was their home, and when he was given a year to live following the diagnosis of bowel cancer in December 2014, he was adamant he did not want to die in a Hospice.
Over the coming months Mick had some excellent care whilst at the Lister Hospital, but as his condition deteriorated it became clear that his pain levels were not able to be controlled at home, and Christine one of our Clinical Nurse Specialists who had been visiting them at home suggested Mick may like to think about coming into the In-Patient Unit for a review of his medication.
Sharon explained “Christine had to put up with some stick from Mick as he was not keen at all on the idea of the Hospice. He was burying his head in the sand and because he looked so well, even though he was in fact so poorly, people never really could relate to the fact time was not on his side. He had a couple of really bad nights and I found it very difficult to see him in such pain. With a bit of reverse psychology on my part, Mick did eventually agree go to the In-Patient Unit in April of this year for pain control, only on a temporary basis though.
When we arrived and Mick was settled into his room, overlooking the garden with the sun coming through the window, he turned to me and said “its lovely here Sharon, a lovely place to die”. I told him that wasn’t the plan! Our daughter, Lauren, a mounted police officer, was getting married on 15th May and we both planned to be there!
Mick’s care in the Hospice was simply outstanding. They couldn’t do enough for him. We were able to take Lauren’s dog Daisy in to visit, Mick felt the chef was preparing food especially for him, we were able to sit up at 1am and make up wedding favour boxes with doughnuts in his room (its well known that the Police like a doughnut) and one day when I visited, the nurses were bathing him, with the radio on, and they dancing to Bruce Springsteen. I knew he was getting extraordinary care.
Once Mick was in the Hospice we spoke quite openly about his death. He had in his mind that Lauren was getting married on 19th May, and Dr Pia, the Hospice’s consultant was very unsure that he would make that date. In fact, it was the 15th May, but even so, he would not be well enough to travel to Braintree where the ceremony was.
Sister Kirsty helped us arrange for Mick to watch the ceremony from his bed via Facetime, and the family managed to hire a helicopter to take us straight from the ceremony to land at the Welwyn Garden City Cricket Ground. There, we jumped in a taxi and went straight to the Hospice. The staff had lined the corridor as we arrived and it was a special moment for us all. We wheeled Mick’s bed into the garden and Mick, dressed in a suit jacket with a flower in his lapel, was able to be in our family photos. It was a very special time.
Mick died on 19th May, the day he had originally in his mind as Lauren’s wedding day. We were all there, myself, Matthew our son and Lauren. The Hospice was indeed, a lovely place to die and we would like to send our heartfelt thanks to everyone who cared for Mick from beginning to end.