Grandmother vows to repay hospice after invaluable care allowed husband to return home

A grieving grandmother is volunteering her time to St Barnabas Hospice to say thanks for the care given in the last days of her husband’s life

Jean Marshall, 77, from Louth volunteers at the charity’s bookshop on Eastgate and has taken part in many of the hospice’s events including a sponsored dog walk and their annual Light Up a Life celebration.

Her husband Gordon, 75, was supported by the St Barnabas Hospice at Home team for seven months after he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that spread throughout his spine and into his liver.

“By the time Gordon was diagnosed he was in severe pain and was no longer able to get about without help,” says Jean. “Still, I didn’t have any worries about looking after Gordon at home because I assumed it would be like any other time he had been unwell. Except it wasn’t and it soon became apparent that we were out of our depth.

“St Barnabas was recommended to me and after making a phone call they arrived the very next day. It was a real relief when they turned up and I’ll always remember one of the first things they said to me was ‘you haven’t got to worry, we’ll look after him now’ and they absolutely did.

“They immediately set about bathing and changing him and ensured that we had everything we needed, nothing was ever too much trouble.”

St Barnabas Hospice at Home team are there to help manage the medical needs of a patient with a terminal illness but also to offer a listening ear, practical advice and support; or even sometimes a comforting arm round the shoulder.

Jean said: “The care was simply marvellous and I welcomed their daily visits, they became more like friends then nurses. They always had time for you and took the time to look after me as well as Gordon.

“Since Gordon has died this care has continued and they will often phone or pop-in to see how I am. They even attended Gordon’s funeral which I found to be a real comfort, after all they were faces I had come to know well.

“I feel really lucky to have had the support of St Barnabas and if it wasn’t for them Gordon would have never been able to return home. I honestly don’t know how I would have coped without them, their support was truly invaluable.”

Jean and Gordon were happily married for 53 years and had three daughters and five grandchildren. During the final month of Gordon’s life their daughters Julie, Linda and Heather moved in to help support their mum.

Linda Spence, 50, said: “The St Barnabas team delivered top quality care and compassion enabling our dad to remain in the comfort of his own home with as little fear as possible.

“Their care was over and above anything we could have asked for and for that we are forever grateful. Surviving this difficult time would have been made so much more difficult without them.”

Jean concludes: “Keeping busy helps me through the grief and provides me with the opportunity to give something back to try and repay them for all they did for my family and me. I’d do anything to help them so that they are able to continue to offer their care and support to others who need it.”

The Hospice at Home team work seven days a week from their headquarters at their flagship day hospice at Grimsby Road in Louth. Last year the team supported 678 people with a terminal illness to remain at home across East Lincolnshire.

Anyone aged 18 and above can be referred to this service through a Community Nurse, GP, Specialist Nurse or other healthcare professional. For any further information on how St Barnabas’ care services can be accessed in your area please call 01522 511566 or visit www.stbarnabashospice.co.uk

To find out more about volunteering with St Barnabas Hospice email volunteering@stbarnabashospice.co.uk or visit www.stbarnabashospice.co.uk for the full list of volunteer roles available.

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