The daughter of a man cared for by Nottinghamshire Hospice has praised the care he received, which enabled him to be discharged from hospital during the lockdown and die peacefully at home.
Bruce Melvyn Osborne, 75, was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago but also had diabetes, COPD and fibrosis. Although the cancer was successfully treated at the time, his health deteriorated recently and earlier this year a scan revealed a growth on his lung.
He spent his career at manufacturing company British Gypsum. On early retirement he spent 12 years managing a farm animal rescue centre where his wife also worked. The couple adopted two infant llamas which they hand-reared at the farm and organised an annual llama day there which attracted visitors from far and wide.
Bruce was taken to hospital in late February with very low blood sugar and blood pressure as well as major fluid retention. Once there he was treated for pneumonia, but tested negative for Covid-19. Family members stayed with him at the hospital for 25 days right until the lockdown was announced in March, after which they were not allowed to visit.
He was on a ward with no telephone access so contact was patchy until his granddaughter Samantha sourced a phone and iPad for him. A short time later the family were told he would not recover, and were advised to prepare for end of life.
Bruce desperately wanted to be at home, but his family were told this was problematic as he would require care to support his wife.
Bruce’s daughter Justine Tomlinson – herself an Admiral nurse who now works for Dementia UK, remembered the hospice and their home service, and got in touch. After that Nottinghamshire Hospice got involved and enabled him to be swiftly discharged.
Justine said: “It was always his wish to be at home and it couldn’t happen quick enough, but things dragged out over several days as there was no care package in place. Mum was very distressed and we were all worried he’d catch Covid-19 and have to die in hospital alone.
“I remembered Hospice at Home nurses working with a family from when I was an Admiral nurse in 2016. I made a random call to the hospice and was offered dedicated support. The ward then booked an ambulance for daddy to come home.”
Hospice at Home and Hospice Night Support care was put in place to support his wife Jacquie and other family members, enabling Bruce to stay at home, where he died six days later.
“The nursing team who came out were wonderful human beings and I will never forget their kindness to my mum” Justine added. “They ensured she kept hydrated, made sure she ate and had the opportunity to get some rest. Mum was genuinely not expecting daddy to die so quickly or prepared for what was to come, so their team helped her get her head around the severity of situation.”
Justine was shielding due to her asthma, so was not able to be at home with her father, but the Hospice at Home team kept in regular touch with her and other family members. They phoned the night before Bruce died so that Justine could speak to him, then on the day he died when they realised the end was near, they phoned again and provided her with PPE so she could say goodbye.
“Thank you to Hannah, the nurse who put the phone to daddy’s ear so I could speak to him one last time, and to Donna for calling me so promptly and supplying me with PPE so I could say goodbye before he died. Then she stayed with mum and sorted everything out.
“If it hadn’t have been for the team from the hospice my mum would’ve been terrified. Dad was occasionally very frightened and agitated and mum would not have known what to do. Their team were there at the right time, night and day.
Because of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, the family can’t have the church funeral they had hoped for, but plan a memorial service for Bruce later in the year.
Now family members are keen to support Nottinghamshire Hospice, and Bruce’s grand-daughter Samantha plans to take part in a running challenge to raise funds.
For more information visit Nottinghamshire Hospice