Ashgate Hospicecare has released three ‘emotionally charged’ videos reuniting its staff with the relatives of patients they cared for in their final days.
The videos, released during Hospice Care Week (4th – 8th October) and filmed in the hospice gardens, reveal the crucial support patients and their families received from Ashgate and how its staff care not just for its patients but for their families and loved ones too.
One of those people is 38-year-old Simon Birley from Clowne, who in October 2020, married his wife Lindsay in a special ceremony at the hospice where Lindsay was being cared for in Ashgate’s Inpatient Unit. Tragically, Lindsay died just one month later.
Simon said: “Throughout her short illness, she never once complained; it’s just awful that one minute we’d just welcomed our son Isaac into the world, we were so happy, the next thing life comes crashing to pieces. All we ever wanted was our own family, and then cancer took it away from us.
“I’m just so grateful that Ashgate was able to be there for us all. Lindsay was so comfortable here and they did everything they could to offer the best care possible.
“She loved all the people that came around and supported her. She truly loved Ashgate and was so thankful that a place like the hospice existed.”
Simon breaks down in tears when he is reunited with Ashgate’s Ward Manager, Karen Walker, who supported the couple on their special day.
He adds: “Karen is just an amazing person. It’s hard to put into words the difference that somebody has made. When my life had been shattered and I was seeing my loved one changing due to the disease, Karen was there to support us all.
“On the wedding day, Karen was there to support Lindsay and having her there made us much more relaxed, she helped make our wedding day go as well as it possibly could have. Without her and everyone else at Ashgate, we wouldn’t have been able to get married.
“I look up to Karen as someone who made a positive impact on my life, and I’ll be forever thankful for that.”
In another video, 61-year-old Sheryle Scott, from Sheffield, pays tribute to Helen Harrison, an Ashgate Community Nurse Specialist who cared for her brother Mark Coley at home after he was diagnosed with MND.
Sheryle said: “Without Helen, I don’t know what we would’ve done. We felt like we’d known her all our lives.
“With Helen, her patients must all feel the same way, we felt that we were the only patients she had.
“She just pulled everything together for us in a matter of days. I could phone her whenever I liked, even during the lockdown it was never a problem.
“Helen became such a big part of our life and I’m so grateful for everything she did for Mark and our family. She just never stopped caring.”
In the final video, Graham Matthews, from Killamarsh, returns to Ashgate to reunite with Lucy, the physiotherapist who “helped to extend the life” of his wife Diane, who was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy, a rare degenerative neurological condition similar to Motor Neurone Disease.
Graham said: “We were so worried about how life would end for Diane, but fortunately, thanks to the support of everyone at Ashgate, it was very peaceful for her.
“Lucy was a big part of Diane’s life towards the end. She helped make a terrible situation much brighter and more cheerful.
“I remember when she couldn’t even stand up or get her head up, but through Lucy’s hard work Diane managed to get her head back up and even stood up a couple of times.”
The charity, which provides specialist end-of-life care to patients with complex palliative care needs across North Derbyshire, hopes the videos will provide an insight into the care and support they offer and raise awareness of their services.
Hayley Wardle, Director of Quality and Patient Care at Ashgate, said: “Hospice Care Week is all about raising awareness and challenging perceptions of hospice care. These videos help to do just that by highlighting the lasting impact that good quality hospice care can have.
“The stories shared in these videos are incredibly emotional and I feel a deep sense of pride that Ashgate was able to support those families when they needed us most.
“Our hope is these videos will help explain in a bit more detail the support we provide not just to our patients but to their families and loved ones too by bringing the reality of what we are all about straight into people’s homes.”
Ashgate Hospicecare, based in Chesterfield, provides specialist palliative and end of life care including a wide range of community-based care and support services for people with a life-limiting illness and their families across North Derbyshire and the High Peak and Dales.