"To have somebody you can lean on at the
time it was needed, was such a huge relief."
Harry first heard St Helena mentioned by a nurse at the hospital where Cas, his wife of 39 years, had spent two nights receiving treatment for lung and brain cancer. The couple felt lost and uncertain about the future when, as they were leaving for home, a paramedic asked if they were known to The Hospice. The couple could see the two comments were linked and perhaps this was an avenue they could explore to support them through the rest of their journey. Harry shares how their story changed the moment he contacted SinglePoint and met their Community Clinical Nurse Specialist…
I phoned up SinglePoint and said can I refer myself? They said yes, so I came in [to The Hospice]. They told me it was a pleasant surprise for someone to come in personally as it’s usually all done on the phone. They asked if my wife knew I was there and I said yes. By the time I got home they’d been in touch with the consultant and all of the information was available - that was in just half an hour.
We had a letter from them soon after which said we’d been allotted Emma, a Community Clinical Nurse Specialist, and she’d be calling to arrange a visit. We were very lucky she became involved, but I guess they’re all brilliant. Her personality just slotted in with us; she just belonged and became our new ‘best friend’ very quickly.
My wife was a retired community nursing sister and it was always going to be tricky finding someone she would get along with, but she and Emma hit it off; there was mutual respect. I said to her who do I call if anything happens? Do I call the GP? And she said, no call SinglePoint and we’ll sort it out.
The thing is, Emma is honest; none of this oh yes that will be alright. She said ‘given everything else you’ve got going on, if there is anything you want to do, do it now’. And she was right. We didn’t want to be fobbed off.
When Cas needed extra care, there were 16 people on the waiting list for The Hospice. The fact is there are only 16 beds there. That’s it. We had been shown around the Trinity ward in Harwich earlier by Emma, which we were completely unaware of. That was our second choice and as it happened we were very happy to be there because the rooms are ensuite, there is free parking 24 hours a day and it was closer for us. The staff there were fantastic, enthusiastic and couldn’t have done more for us. We felt very well looked after. She went in on the Friday and died a week later in Trinity ward.
It was a huge relief that Cas and Emma got on. What Cas was doing to start with was looking at her illness as if it was another person, as if it was a patient she was treating, until it got really bad and she couldn’t do it any longer. It was easier for her to be treating another person.
Emma went the extra mile. She found out one of the SinglePoint nurses had worked with Cas on the District and she arranged for him to go out with her when she visited Cas on the Trinity ward to get the pain control sorted out.
I went on a course at The Hospice before Cas died to prepare me for what was to come. She did a DNAR early on and discussed where she wanted to be at the end; she didn’t want to die at home. We’d paid for our funerals years ago. We had discussed what we wanted, burial or cremation. We’d written down what we wanted at our funerals; we didn’t want anybody saying nice things about us who didn’t know us. Cas just wanted us to get to the crematorium and to the pub afterwards and just get it over and done with. Then towards the end she said ‘maybe people would like to come and say nice things about me’ and then she said ‘ask our local vicar to run something nice at the church’ - which she did.
Cas was matter of fact; she knew she was dying and that was it. We had talked all the way through and that helped me to make the right decisions.
One of the things she said to me was ‘get rid of the caravan and get a motorhome so you can just go around and see people and go to some of the places we would have gone to’. I have bought one, but it was the first time for 40 years that I had to make such an important decision on my own. It’s quite an eye opener to me.
I try not to be too hard on myself because it’s such an adjustment to make.
All carers are amateurs. You’re shocked at the same time as dealing with stuff. You lurch from one crisis to another so the fact of having a steady hand, to have somebody like Emma and SinglePoint 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at the time it was needed, was such a huge relief.
To contact the St Helena Fundraising team, please telephone 01206 931 468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org , Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm.
24 hour advice: SinglePoint 01206 890 360
SinglePoint is a 24/7 advice and support helpline which helps to coordinate an individual’s care with the hospice. SinglePoint also works alongside other healthcare services such as GPs, Community Nurses or Specialists.
To contact a patient at The Hospice please find the address and telephone number below. Phone calls can be made to patients at any time of the day or week. You can contact Inpatient Services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Hospice, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, C04 9JU
Telephone: 01206 845 566
You can contact The Hospice in the Home Team Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 845 566
Tendring community team
Telephone: 01255 221 222
You can contact the Joan Tomkins Centre (Colchester) Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 848 163
Fax: 01206 752 245
You can contact the St Helena Tendring Centre (Clacton) Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01255 221 222
Tendring Centre Postcode for Sat Navs: CO15 1EU
The HR Team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466
To contact the St Helena Finance Team please telephone 01206 931 450 Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
The Volunteer Services team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466
For all media enquiries between 9.00am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday, please phone the Marketing and Communications team directly on 01206 931 464
If you, or a member of your family has a life-limiting illness and would like to discuss whether St Helena care services can help, you can contact the SinglePoint telephone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 01206 890 360
To contact the St Helena Bereavement Support team please telephone the bereavement helpline: 01206 984 274, Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
The Learning and Development Centre is open Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm and can be contacted on 01206 851 560
For more information on the St Helena Service User Group please contact Chair, Ken Aldred on 01206 751 397
To contact the Lottery team please call 0800 285 1390 or visit the website here, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.
If you would like to write to or visit the Lottery team, the address is: Your Hospice Lottery Office Unit 6 The Atrium, Phoenix Square, Wyncolls Road, Colchester CO4 9AS.
Feedback, comments and complaints about St Helena care and support services may be made verbally or in writing to: Director of Care, St Helena, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, CO4 9JU. To speak to a member of our team, call 01206 845 566