When I accepted the voluntary position of executive director at Beaumond House a couple of years ago I didn’t realise my father -in-law would be benefiting so soon from the wonderful care Beaumond House provide. It was strange to move from being a Director to be a service user, but once Pete knew he needed in-patient hospice care we knew exactly where we wanted this to be, if possible.
Pete was still grieving (as were we all) the loss of his wife earlier in the year. But he had planned a cruise and celebrated his 80th birthday with a small party. Soon after this his symptoms started, he spent the next 12 weeks moving between 3 large hospitals before his diagnosis and prognosis were clear. Pete had a rare small intestine cancer and was transferred to Beaumond Hospice for the final 3 weeks of his life at the beginning of January.
We can’t praise Beaumond House enough for making his final weeks so comfortable. It was lovely for Pete to be back in a homely environment after so many hospital beds. We were able to put up family photos and visiting became so much more relaxed and enjoyable. Pete had a significant hearing loss that had meant in hospital everyone had heard what visitors, doctors, nurses and dietitians were saying. At Beaumond the privacy was excellent. In the quieter environment staff spoke without shouting. We were able to have the difficult but crucial conversations about dying.
Pete had always loved food, so it was a great sadness that he wasn’t well enough to enjoy the great menu at Beaumond- although staff were fantastic at getting him some of the food he fancied – even bellinis! Pete was a Ba'hai and his religion was very important to him. Staff went over and above to meet his spiritual and religious needs. They read up and engaged in discussions with him, getting to know the man behind the terminal cancer. Pete loved these conversations and was still making jokes (still bad jokes!) into the last week of his life. During his final week sometimes when we arrived we found staff reading to him from his book of prayers. We continued to observe exceptional consideration for his communication and hearing loss, as well as his dignity and rights. When we weren’t there, we knew he was in fantastic hands.
Of course, the hard thing for us now is to live with our loss. A week after Pete’s death staff contacted us to see how we all were. Their caring continued beyond the patient to our family. Six months on we remember and fully appreciate the outstanding care from Beaumond House. As I move back from service user to Director, I am so proud to be part of the board that oversees such excellence. My experience has reinforced my drive to ensure Beaumond House can continue to provide services for our local community and everyone who needs them … because we never know what is around the corner.
Dr Della Money