Over 600 terminally-ill patients in Derbyshire have received vital end of life care at home from a new nursing service launched by Treetops Hospice Care earlier this year.
The Roaming Nurses respond to calls from families with a loved one at the end of life who has chosen to die at home. The service is alleviating pressures on the NHS and complements the existing Treetops Hospice at Home nurses who have continued to provide palliative care throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.
The service was a ‘lifeline’ for one local family who explained how important it was ‘to keep dad at home, as was his wish’:
“The night we called the nurses, we just weren’t able to do the simple things like make dad comfy in bed or to know what he needed. We were struggling as a family by that point, and you feel so helpless knowing you can’t do those little things.
“Dad had woken up in the early hours, and he was distressed and uncomfortable. The nurses arrived and gave him some medication to help him relax. They were chatting with him, making jokes and making him laugh. At one point, he was lying there, and you saw his big cheeky smile come onto his face, which for mum and me was so lovely to see and to know it was still his old self in there.”
The nurses ‘did so much more than we expected’:
“I expected they’d just help us get dad back into bed, make him comfy and then leave, but they helped us with things we just didn’t realise needed doing.
“For mum and me, it made a massive difference, and it was a big relief knowing that dad was getting everything he needed. They also reassured us that we were doing a good job and doing what dad needed. It made us feel happier.
“It just took the stress off us a little, and although there wasn’t someone sitting with him all night, it put our minds at ease. We could then go back to bed.
“They were both absolutely lovely ladies. They reassured us so much at such a horrible time, and they never once made you feel like they had to rush off to go and see someone else.
“Going through this with my dad has opened up my eyes to what an amazing job the nurses and healthcare assistants do. They are such strong people. If it wasn’t for the nurses that night, I really don’t know how we would have got through the night.
They made dad’s final night at home with us peaceful, calm and as pain-free as they could. It was more than we could have asked for.
“As a family, we can’t thank Treetops enough for all the help and support they’ve given us through all this. They are really angels in disguise.”
Treetops successfully approached Toyota to loan the charity a vehicle for the service whereby a registered nurse and healthcare assistant respond to calls for assistance each evening from Treetops nurses and to patients referred to the Hospice at Home service. The Roaming Service team can visit up to seven more Treetops patients each evening and help with symptom or pain management.
Teresa Smith, Treetops Hospice at Home Manager, said:
“Our Hospice at Home nurses continue to provide overnight and daycare for patients at the very end of life, who’ve chosen to die at home. This service is vital for families who know their loved one is being cared for whilst they get a few hours’ sleep or a break.
“The new Roaming Service means we can care for even more patients living in Derby and Derbyshire and alleviate pressures on the NHS. As an example, our Hospice at Home nurses can call the Roaming Service for help to deliver pain medication to a patient.
“We also have families that might not need a Treetops nurse to sit with their loved one for a whole night but might need to call with a one-off request. They can now call the Roaming Service who can respond quickly and who have an existing knowledge of the patient and their needs.
“Previously, if a family recognised their loved one was in pain or deteriorating, they would call the 111 out-of-hours services. They would assess the situation and send out a District Nurse, but this could mean a wait as the service is extremely busy. Our Roaming Team may be closer and be able to respond more quickly, helping to take the pressure off the out of hours nursing team from Derbyshire Health United.”
The Hospice at Home Service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Last year, Hospice at Home nurses provided over 28,000 hours of care across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
Treetops has just launched this year’s Light Up a Life appeal offering people the opportunity to make a dedication in memory of a loved one who has died.
Dedications are represented as lights on the hospice Christmas tree which will be switched on during a special online memorial service on Sunday 6 December at 5pm. Further information can be found at www.treetops.org.uk/lights