Lincoln couple praise local hospice for “home from home” care

Mick Orr, aged 65 and Amanda Orr, aged 56 from Cherry Willingham in Lincoln explain how St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice helped Mick return home following complications in his fight against cancer.

In April 2014, Amanda Orr, learned the devastating news that her husband, Mick Orr, had just a short time to live and as a result would be transferred to St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice inpatient unit, following a five-week hospital stay.

Only eleven months earlier Mick had been diagnosed with an aggressive and incurable form of prostate cancer which had led to him being hospitalised after collapsing at home.

Amanda recalled: “It was such a blow to think that this could be the end. That Mick was leaving me and our family after he had fought so hard. He underwent tests at the hospital which revealed he had suffered spinal cord compression from the secondary cancer in his bones and began a course of radiotherapy immediately.

“Unfortunately the spinal cord compression led to a host of complications and, over the course of five-weeks, his health deteriorated. It was then suggested we transfer to St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice.

“That was five-weeks ago and I am happy to say that Mick is still with us and he is in high spirits. People assume you come to the hospice to die but that is not always the case and certainly was not true for Mick. He has gone from strength to strength at St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice and, amazingly, he is being discharged next week to return home.”

During his stay at the eleven-bed inpatient unit on Nettleham Road in Lincoln Mick has received specialist patient-centred care that is bespoke to his needs.

Amanda said: “Mick has really benefited from the care of the specialist nurses and doctors at the hospice who are available to him twenty-four hours a day. Pain management has always been administered quickly and efficiently and this has ensured that Mick has remained pain free and comfortable. He has also had daily sessions with physiotherapists and complementary therapists who have worked to improve Mick’s mobility and to rehabilitate him.

“We have been so impressed with the quality of care Mick has received at the hospice; simply put it has been outstanding. The staff and volunteers here really go that extra mile, nothing is ever too much trouble, and all you have to do is ask. It really is home from home as best as it can be in this situation.”

Whilst at St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice Mick had a special ‘sail away’ party. Mick and his wife had been due to set sail on a cruise around Spain in mid May, as a late celebration for his 65th birthday, which had been postponed due to chemotherapy treatment.

Amanda said: “We had booked the cruise in December to celebrate Mick’s birthday alongside some of our closest friends. It was also an opportunity for Mick to say his final goodbye as it was likely that he wouldn’t see them again. However as the departure date grew nearer it became apparent that Mick wouldn’t be well enough to go, even after the progress he had made with St Barnabas.

“I wasn’t about to let this slip by unnoticed and with the help of our fabulous daughter Karen and the staff at the hospice we transformed his surroundings into a special ‘sail away’ party. We hung boat themed decorations around the ward, laid on champagne and canapés in the conservatory and set up a video link to our friends on-board the ship to toast them as they set sail.

“We had saved £600 spending money for the cruise but we have decided to donate it all to St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice as a way of repaying them for their first class care and support. Even our daughter’s dog was welcomed into the hospice to join in the various festivities. Just the week before we had all enjoyed an impromptu concert outside, from another patient and their band, and Mick was even able to be wheeled out onto the patio in his bed.”

Mick and Amanda have also utilised other services from St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice including welfare support and Advance Care Planning.

Amanda said: “Writing an Advance Care Plan was not easy or comfortable but it was necessary. It is a real comfort to know that when things get difficult Mick has already made decisions about the sort of care he is happy to receive and ultimately where he would like to be at the very end. This allowed Mick to take back some control over his cancer and leaves us free to enjoy the time we have left together.

“Mick’s continued positivity and the ethos at the hospice have taught us both that a cancer diagnosis doesn’t mean life has to just stop. If people could witness first hand what the hospice is really like, and how people with cancer and other terminal illnesses can be helped here, they wouldn’t hesitate to get behind their fundraising efforts. I have seen first hand how hospice care makes a remarkable difference.”

Amanda concludes: “It really is a cruel irony that St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice is reliant on charitable donations when it is such an integral part of our community.”

Since writing this article Mick suffered further complications and sadly passed away peacefully on Monday 2nd June 2014, pain free and in the company of his loving wife.

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