A Gwent couple were so amazed by the free service given by a local hospice to a dying relative that they have not only made a large £10,000 donation, but also are paying a nurse’s salary for two years as a thank you.
Wayne and Tracy Phillips were caring for Wayne’s terminally ill mother, Jean, at home in Bassaleg, Newport.
But acting on advice from their GP they were referred to Newport-based St David’s Hospice Care for help.
Jean Phillips, of St Brides, Newport, was given comprehensive palliative care by the hospice at her son’s home during her final three weeks of life – something for which Wayne and Tracy will be forever grateful.
Cardiff-based strategic planning consultant Wayne said: “The care my mother received from the hospice and, in particular, from our nurse Faye was truly astounding.”
But businessman Wayne and wife, mum-of-six Tracy, on a visit to the Newport hospice to thank management and staff, agreed it could all have been so different.
Treasured memories: Wayne and Tracy Phillips with mum Jean (right in lilac) and (l tor) Wayne’s three sisters, Jen, Jayne and Sally.
The couple said they hadn’t known where to turn on receiving the devastating news that mum, Jean, was dying.
“Thankfully the GP suggested we contact St David’s Hospice Care and from the moment nurse Faye walked through our door our lives, especially that of my mother, changed forever.”
Wayne said: “We were frightened; we were scared. We knew we needed help and didn’t know which way to turn.
“We’d been worrying, stressing that we were doing things wrong and that mum was suffering even more as a result. You begin to doubt yourself. It’s terrifying.
“We both feel lighter now, calmer, knowing that we did everything that we possibly could for Jean.
“We have no regrets. It wasn’t an easy time, nothing like this can be but we and the whole family feel that everything was as good as it could have been and we put this down to the excellent care from Faye and the St David’s Hospice Care team.
“But it all could have been so different.
“I know of people who have had to go through what we did on their own, without the care, support and assistance that we had. I simply can’t imagine what it’s like.”
Wayne said: “After five or ten minutes Faye had taken stock of the situation and knew exactly what was required.
“Over the time she was with us we became firm friends and my mother who could be quite stubborn and very uncooperative, especially if she didn’t take to a person, almost immediately warmed to Faye. It was as if a light had gone on.
“Super Faye, as we call her, was fantastic. She took immediate control of the situation. We were blown away with the level of care, the empathy, the compassion and professionalism of Faye and her team.
“We thought the hospice was part of the NHS. Never did we think that the service was largely paid for by donations and fundraising and also that the care and services provided are completely free to users.
“We wanted to show our appreciation and to continue our support by becoming a sponsor of a nurse. We hope that what we have done may be replicated by others.”
Tracy, a counsellor, said: “Jean had a fear of dying, she was anxious about it”.
“As a counsellor I recognised what she was going through. Towards the end, due to the excellent palliative care, she had become comfortable with the idea that she wasn’t going to get better.
“It’s incorrect to say that the nurses have seen it all before as every case is different.
“Every family situation is different but certain end of life signs are the same and this among the very many other things the palliative care nurses know about is their true value. When to do things, when not to do things, especially towards the end.”
Wayne said: “We now regard the hospice and their people as our ‘miracle’ place. It was a total revelation.
“We support a lot of charities and have done so over the years but often you haven’t got an idea where the money that you raise is used or where it goes. With St David’s Hospice Care you know that it goes directly to patient care
“It was quite a shock to know that everything that my mum and our family received from St David’s Hospice Care was free.
“The level of care and compassion was superb and it’s all for free to those who need it.
“Of course this has to be paid for, which is why we decided not just to donate an initial £10,000 to the hospice but to fund a nurse, Faye’s salary, for a full two years.
“We told mum that we were going to make a donation and even as she was dying she turned to me and said: “You will make that donation to the hospice won’t you” She was lucid and fully coherent right until the end and knew how hard and passionately the hospice staff had worked on her behalf.
“Sponsoring a nurse can be done at so many different levels and can be done over a period of time depending on the level of donation. We are delighted to be the first sponsors involved in this ground-breaking campaign and hope it enables more nurses to be provided by St David’s Hospice Care.
“Perhaps there may be others who can go down the same road as us and choose to sponsor a nurse.
“This kind of nursing must be a nightmare job, tough, demanding not just physically but mentally. Meeting people for a relatively short time with every situation different with its varied challenges but all done with a smile-it’s simply amazing.”
“The sponsor a nurse scheme is a great initiative, which we’re sure will make a huge difference to the hospice.
“We’re delighted to support the sponsor a nurse and thrilled to know that we are the first.
“We now hope that what we have done as ground breakers, if you like, is carried on by others. Nurses like Faye are so crucial and urgently needed to provide the marvellous care that people such as us received for our mum.
“It’s important that people know about the care provided by the hospice. The more people who know the better.”
Dedicated service: Clinical Nurse Specialist Faye Russell-Jones
The Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Faye Russell-Jones, aged 29, a palliative care nurse for six years, is the first St David’s Hospice Care nurse to be sponsored.
Proudly wearing her new sponsored hospice tunic displaying the Phillips Consultants logo, Faye said: “I’ll be happy to chat to anyone who is interested in sponsoring a nurse and we are all so grateful to Wayne and Tracy for their extremely generous donation.
St David’s Hospice Care Chief Executive Officer, Emma Saysell, said “We’re overwhelmed by the kindness shown by Wayne and Tracy Phillips.
“Clinical salaries make up a huge part of the hospice expenditure every year and we are so pleased that Wayne and Tracy are the first people ever to fully sponsor a nurse. We are very humbled.
“The hospice looks after some 3,200 patients a year and is looking after 1,400 patients at any one time on average.
” If you are interested in doing something similar to Wayne and Tracy, we would love you to get in touch either by telephone 01633 851051 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org”
Lead Picture caption: Grateful thanks: Wayne and Tracy Phillips with palliative care nurse, Faye Russell-Jones at the St David’s Hospice Care day hospice in Malpas, Newport
The lead photo and the one of Tracy Phillips are credit Ollie Barnes
Note: Wayne & Tracy Phillips generously donated £60,000 – two years’ nurse salary – on top of the original £10,000. St David’s Hospice Care needs to find £9m a year to fund all of its services most of which comes from donations, fundraising and bequests . The NHS provides SDHC with a quarter of the money it needs.