Venetia Hopkins worked as a nurse at Weston Hospicecare for a decade before retiring.
She is now supporting the Family Support Team as a Volunteer Chaplain.
Her love for giving frontline palliative care enables her to become close to those at the most difficult time of life.
Venetia’s next story describes how the hospice cares for the mental health of people with terminal illnesses and their families.
Venetia writes “A community patient was having a miserable time at home. He was too exhausted. Even to make himself a cup of tea while his wife was at work.
“By day he breathed using continuous oxygen and at night he had to strap on his BiPAP breathing machine.”
A BiPAP breathing machine applies pressure to the airflow in the lungs to simulate the breathing exercise.
Venetia continues “He was taking all sorts of medication. The suggestion of a lung transplant had been withdrawn. He could not see any point in living.
“Our patient was offered a bed at the hospice in the Inpatient Unit (IPU), something which he instinctively refused at first.
“All his life, from the moment of his adoption through a difficult and complex childhood, he had dealt with and overcome his problems.
“His professional life had been a success, he had had a good business as a builder and roofer. He had married the girl of his dreams, he has two beautiful daughters and four lively young grandchildren.
“However, at this particular point, he could see very little point in living.”
The hospice starts caring for Venetia’s patient…
This is where the hospice started caring for the patient and things started to change.
Venetia continues “He came into the IPU mid-August. At first his one hope was that life would end for him soon but gradually the IPU magic began to work on him.
“He was offered tempting small meals (soup and dessert only to begin with, and plenty of custard with the dessert) and then he was managing three small courses; endless cups of tea (it was hard to pass his room without being called in and asked for a refill, blue milk, two sugars) together with long chats with the Chaplain, nursing staff and doctors to change his outlook.
“All this and certain modifications to his drug regime helped the patient make progress.
“Less than 3 weeks after his admission, he decided he was ready to go back home. By now he was talking quite differently about his approach to life as well as being more open about his personal life.
“He had rediscovered his dry wit! He was more willing to live within his limitations. His delightful card, thanking the staff for their care, spoke of their, ‘help in my recovery’. He signed off, ‘thank you hardly seems enough’.”
The return to home and a new lease of life…
Venetia reports her patient is enjoying life again, at home.
“He is relishing time spent with his family, particularly watching his grandchildren as they grow and develop.
“He is still very happy to have spent time in the hospice and particularly wants to broadcast the fact that it turned him round from wanting to die to wanting to live, even with the restrictions his ill health dictates.
“Chris says that friends who heard he was in the hospice have now started contacting him and, where possible, visiting.”
Venetia added “I bet they make endless cups of tea for him”.
36% of inpatient unit patients are discharged after their stay.
While the hospice is there to relieve pain for those at the end of their lives, we also treat symptoms using a combination of all services to give people a new lease of life as Venetia describes.
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