"excellent end of life care"
About: Abingdon Community Hospital Abingdon Community Hospital OX14 1AG
Posted by Lucy
Last year my Mum died at home in central Oxford. For the last 7 days we received care and out of hours support from the team at Abingdon Community Hospital. It is painful to remember those days and it has taken me a while to write this, but words can barely describe how brilliant the care and support was.
The GP and district nurse visited daily and set up the care that we needed. However, even though we are health professionals ourselves, we still needed to call for out of hours help or advice at least daily. The response time was excellent and the staff who came were caring sympathetic and efficient. One time I had a nurse in the bedroom giving extra morphine within 20 minutes of the call and that included travel time from Abingdon. The nurses knew what they were doing - and as I am a doctor, I am a harsh critic!
But the element that made the whole thing possible was the provision of night time nursing assistants, so that we could get some sleep. The nurses that came were amazing - calm, knowledgeable and experienced. The ones from Marie Curie were the best as they gave the best impression of knowing exactly what they were doing in the scenario of end of life care. One nurse from another agency was also fine, but slightly less familiar with the role. In order for me to sleep I needed a high level of confidence, and this could barely have been better.
The Marie Curie nurses call before they arrive - this is a great idea - they introduce themselves, ask about the situation and so when the doorbell rings, they are not quite a stranger. This really helps.
The only problem we had was one night when we were told no nurse could be provided. We had been warned about this in a sympathetic manner, by the very helpful ACH office person. A friend and I had agreed to split the night between us. Then unexpectedly a nurse turned up at 10 pm - which startled us. This nurse did not inspire confidence and had no experience of end of life care. Reluctantly I ended up asked them not to stay. The next morning I thought I might get a black mark for sending the nurse away - but the office staff could not have been more sympathetic, apologetic and understanding. So for us at least, no nurse was better than an unsuitable nurse.
In the end Mum died 5 minutes before the Marie Curie nurse arrived for their night shift. What a delightful person they were to lead an exhausted and emotional family calmly and caringly through the tasks that needed to be done. We plan to make a donation from Mum's estate to Marie Curie, equal in value to 6 nights of care. But thank-you Abingdon Community Hospital for making it possible.