"I was sceptical at first because I thought hospice care meant that I would have to leave my family to be looked after in a hospice somewhere, I had no idea there was Hospice at Home nurses who would care for me in my own home."

Father thanks hospice ‘angels’ for helping him to spend his final days at home

A hospice patient diagnosed with terminal cancer has given high praise to St Barnabas for helping him to spend quality time at home with his young family.

Kevin Shelton, 62, from Anderby Creek near Skegness was given just three to six months to live after being diagnosed with advanced oesophageal cancer before Christmas.

After failed palliative chemotherapy, the married father-of-four was referred to St Barnabas for specialist end of life care.

“I was sceptical at first because I thought hospice care meant that I would have to leave my family to be looked after in a hospice somewhere,” says Kevin. “I had no idea there was Hospice at Home nurses who would care for me in my own home.

“My family means everything to me and being at home means that I can be part of making lasting memories that will hopefully live on long after I have gone. My youngest son is only four-years-old and I didn’t want to miss a single second of his life now, when I am going to miss out on so much of his future.

“The St Barnabas nurses have been a blessing from the very beginning as they have become like friends to my family and me. They immediately helped to get my pain and symptoms under control which means I have a better quality of life and can enjoy the time I have left.”

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

Kevin said: “St Barnabas take the time to really listen to you and when I mentioned that I was struggling to get comfortable or sleep they arranged for a specialist bed to be delivered within 48 hours.

“Nothing is ever too much trouble and they are always there to answer any little questions or to soothe any fears you might have. They will do absolutely anything to help and whatever you ask for they will strive to get it for you; they always deliver what they say they will.

“To me, they are more than just nurses. They are all angels.”

Louise Garwood, Clinical Team Lead for St Barnabas Hospice, said:

“As part of the Hospice at Home team my focus is to bring my expertise and knowledge right into the patient’s own home so that they can remain within the home setting. Our priority is to ensure that the patient has a good quality of life and that they are able to enjoy the time they have left with their loved ones.

“Managing the medical needs of our patients is one of the most important parts of our roles, but just as important is to provide the ‘human touch’ and to look after the whole family who will be feeling the strain too.

“Taking the time to get to know a patient and their family is vitally important for us to be able to look after that patient as an individual and ensure that we provide a tailored package of care and that we always deliver what we say we will.”

St Barnabas Hospice at Home team visit Kevin and his family three or four times a week but can increase their visits when needed.

Kevin said: “It’s really reassuring to know that St Barnabas are only ever a phone call away and that we can speak so openly to people who understand fully what we are going through.

“They always include me in all the decisions about my care and that is really important at a time when you feel you are losing control. They have helped to encourage my mobility and independence and subsequently I have set myself little goals about what I would like to achieve, like celebrating my birthday this month and enjoying one last family holiday together.

“Living with cancer has taught me how precious life is and to grab every single second of it when you can. I am determined to keep fighting this for myself and for my family but I know that even after I’ve gone St Barnabas will continue to be there for my family, and that offers me real comfort on the darkest of days.”

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

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