A hospice nurse has gone “above and beyond the call of duty” to give a patient receiving care at St Barnabas Hospice the “best day of his life”
Andrew Horton was left lost for words when he received the call that he and his family would be having a behind the scenes tour of RAF Coningsby – something that Andrew had dreamt of since childhood.
Avid aeroplane fan Andrew, who lives in Martin in Lincolnshire, has been attending St Barnabas Day Therapy Centre in Lincoln for the past 14 months.
Diagnosed with end stage renal failure at the age of 22, Andrew learned that he will need dialysis indefinitely or until he is strong enough to undergo a kidney transplant. A recently discovered heart condition means that the surgery has been delayed, but Andrew is hopeful that one day he will be able to get his new kidney.
“I am just waiting and hoping that one day my heart will be strong enough to allow me to have the transplant and that I will be able to get some normality back to my life,” says Andrew. “Life on dialysis has had a far greater impact on my life then I ever could have imagined.
“It touches every aspect of your life from preventing you from eating the foods you enjoy to taking part in the sports you once loved. Life becomes about hospital appointments, treatments and medications and your days become long and drawn out. It’s hard to remain positive and I am not ashamed to admit that I was becoming depressed.
“The nurses at St Barnabas understood how I was feeling and they went above and beyond their call of duty to organise a once in a lifetime visit to RAF Coningsby.”
After hearing about Andrew’s love of planes, hospice staff wanted to help him fulfil his ambitions and contacted the Willow Foundation, a national charity working with seriously ill young adults to fulfil uplifting and unforgettable special days.
Andrew said: “I couldn’t believe it when I got the call to say the day had been arranged, I couldn’t stop smiling. Best of all, it was lovely to have something to look forward to and for the first time in a long time, hospital visits weren’t the dominating factor in my life.
“The day was all I could have hoped for and more and it was lovely to be able to share the experience with my foster Dad and brothers. We all dressed smartly in our suits and we were treated to a tour of the Lancaster Lounge, Battle of Britain Hangar and got to ride in the flight simulator.
“The absolute highlight has to be the moment I was allowed to sit in a working Lancaster and a Typhoon, it was like a dream come true. The experience was one of the best days of my life and something that my family and I will always cherish.”
St Barnabas is the principle provider of end-of-life care across the county and provides day therapy five days a week from its base in Lincoln.
Over 1,900 patients benefited from the various day therapy sessions last year, which are free of charge and funded wholly through charitable donations to St Barnabas.
Sarah Fitter, Higher Lever Staff Nurse for St Barnabas Hospice, said:
“After taking the time to get to get to know Andrew I soon realised that he was feeling fed-up with the focus of his life being around hospital visits and that this was starting to have a real impact on his wellbeing.
“We started to focus on what goals he may have and looked at his hobbies and interests and it was then that his love of aeroplanes became apparent.
“I feel quite humbled to have played a part in helping Andrew and his family to experience this unforgettable day which has quite clearly had a positive impact on them all. At St Barnabas we are blessed with time to really find out what a person needs in order to gain an improved quality of life or sense of wellbeing and purpose.”
Andrew will continue to access St Barnabas Day Therapy services to manage his symptoms as and when the support is needed.
Andrew adds: “The wonderful thing about the Hospice is it provides an oasis of calm and relaxation and they help you to live as fully as you are able. They looked after me as a whole person and didn’t just treat the medical side of things.
“They took the time to understand what was important to me and the special visit to RAF Coningsby had a profound effect on my overall wellbeing. It has had a more far reaching effect than any medical intervention ever has.”
Day therapy can help people with a range of issues which they may be having difficulty with, such as physical, emotional, social, spiritual and psychological problems. The aim of attending the range of day therapy activities is to help people manage their symptoms, help them gain more confidence at home by assessing their personal needs, and to help improve the quality of their lives.
Anyone aged 18 and above can refer themselves to any or all of the different services provided, without the need for a doctor’s letter. 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