"The staff and treatment made his last days as..."

About: Torbay Hospital

What I liked

Once in A and E, the young doctor on duty wanted to put in a cannula, pump in anti-biotics and hydration, despite having no reason to believe he had an infection. Sensing the end, I asked him to hold off until he could be seen by the palliative care team.He always hated to be prodded and have needles stuck in him.

In the morning, the consultant on duty concurred with my judgement. He was then seen by the palliative care team who put him on the LCP. He became much more peaceful, and it was only then I knew how agitated he had been. We had met some of the team; they knew his desire to die as peacefully and free of pain as possible. When they explained the mixture of pain control and anti-anxiety treatment, I knew it was what the healthy Jonathan would have wanted.

On the ward. the staff were kind and considerate, allowing us to be at his bedside at all times. I felt guilty at first, because, having taken him to hospital, the hospice. A single room was found within 24 hours. This was a comfort to us: by this time Jonathan’s brother and sister had joined us and other family and friends Jonathan reacted less and less to this, but there were glimmers. For us, the privacy allowed us to act more normally.

The LCP gave Jonathan peace. We gathered round him talking to him. We got some response. All the pain and agitation which had been building up was dissipated. Knowing that he was dying gave his family and friends time to gather around him, it gave him serenity in his last days. We do not know how he felt, but we know how being with him felt. He didn’t want to die, so I asked myself whether I should have allowed needles and prodding that first night. Jonathan’s life may have been extended by a few days, but he would have been in pain, discomfort, struggling against all intervention. Treating a man who was going to die soon could be torture. I am glad that thanks to the LCP and the the wonderful staff at Torbay, we can remember him slipping away in peace.

What could be improved

Nothing, well maybe some cushions for relatives.

Anything else?

The controversy in the news prompted me to put down my thoughts. We knew and accepted that Jonathan was terminally ill. This possibly made our decisions easier, From his diagnosis, we had discussed possible scenarios. His treatment at the end offered him tranquillity and kept the trauma of losing a loved one to just that. We have no regrets and are thankful that caring doctors and nurses have devised and administer such palliative care.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Torbay Hospital

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience of palliative care at Torbay Hospital; we are sorry it has taken so long for us to post a response.

We know how difficult and distressing it can be to make such decisions on behalf of a loved-one during their last days, and we are pleased that you felt supported and comforted by the staff and by the actions taken to give you privacy, together with family and friends, to say goodbye.

We are always looking for ways to improve what we do in our Hospital and your experience will help us to provide others with a similar high-quality of palliative care in the future.

South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

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