A terminally-ill pensioner from Colyton has praised the Hospiscare@Home service, saying East Devon residents are ‘lucky’ to have such personal end-of-life care.
Widower Charles Harris, 81 from Colyton, was diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer in 2018 and opted for palliative care instead of chemotherapy.
The pensioner, who lives alone, said the revolutionary service has given him time to enjoy life.
Charles said the Hospiscare@Home team offers more than nursing care and pain relief; since his diagnosis the team helped him go on holiday, plus set him up with all he needs to be comfortable back at home.
“When it comes to it, they will be here for me and I can die at home in my own bed,” said Charles.
“We are so lucky to have this service in our area – it’s personalised care which allows you to make the most of life while you still can.
“I don’t know what I would have done without them. I wouldn’t be able to live out the end of my days like this.
“Since my wife died, I have lived alone. I have a very active social life but no one around to help with my deteriorating health.
“My wife and I had four sons together. Sadly, one of my boys got cancer in 2002 and he died.
“My other three sons don’t live locally but are very supportive and they visit with the grandchildren whenever they can.”
“I was amazed at how quickly everything kicked in with Hospiscare@Home; within twenty four hours of being diagnosed, the nurses were in touch.
“My condition requires regular treatment. I need to get one and a half litres of fluid drained from my stomach every day so the nurses come and do this at home.
“They fit in with my social life and it saves me from having to go to the hospital every day for this procedure.
“Not having to worry about driving and parking is such a bonus. It gives me more time to go to coffee mornings, see friends and do my shopping.”
Charles said the Hospiscare@Home nursing team made it possible for him to go on holiday and still receive his regular treatment; he said the care he receives has given him a better quality of life and enables him to enjoy his life.
“I want to live as long as I can and do as much as I can, I don’t even think about the cancer,” said Charles. “The illness has slowed me down and there are things I can’t do, but the nursing team are really supportive and work out ways for me to do the things I can.
“For example, I wanted to go on a caravanning holiday in Wales; the Hospiscare@Home team made it happen.
“They organised for me to have daily treatment at a health centre down the road from the caravan park. They packed up the equipment I would need, booked all the appointments with the health centre, and I was away.
“There is no chance I could have had that holiday without the team sorting out all the medical practicalities for me.
“Back at home they have set me up with everything I need to be comfortable. I really can’t praise them enough. They are excellent and so willing to help.
“They do the specialist medical care but also have access to other services which they hook me up with.
“Since I’m alone they sorted me out with a personal alarm; they moved my bed to a better position so I can see out of the window and they control my pain.
“After a visit from them I feel well enough to go out and meet up with friends for a game of bridge or a drink.
“It’s all the little things that make such a big difference and give a better quality of life.”
Charles added: “I was leading a normal life when in the spring of 2018 I started to experience a very sudden shortness of breath.
“I didn’t feel too bad but got checked out and was told I had lung cancer, and that it was asbestos related.
“At my age I decided that chemotherapy wouldn’t be a very comfortable treatment. It would only give me an extra three months or so.
“On that basis I thought it better to enjoy life and opted for palliative care instead.”
Hospiscare@Home in Seaton and Axminster delivers 24/7 hands-on nursing support at home for people with a life-limiting illness in the final months or weeks of life.
Hospiscare@Home is made available by Hospiscare and funded by charities Seaton and District Hospital League of Friends and The League of Friends of Axminster Hospital, Exmouth and Lympstone Hospiscare, and Budleigh Salterton and District Hospiscare.
These local charities work together ensuring the best use of donations.