When a home care patient mentioned he’d like to go out to the pub, St Helena Hospice whisked him off to enjoy a real ale with his friends.
Roger Renders is being visited at his home by St Helena Hospice’s community nurse specialists and their Virtual Ward healthcare assistants, who provide personal home care for Roger and give support to his wife Di.
His nurse Debbie took note of Roger’s wish and Virtual Ward healthcare assistants June and Jason jumped at the chance to help out. Di arranged for their friends, who they hadn’t seen for five months, to be at their favourite pub when Roger arrived.
Although difficult for Roger to speak, he called it an “enjoyable experiment that worked and will work again” and is already looking forward to the next time. For Di too, it was a rare trip out and just the lift she needed.
Di and Roger’s Story
With Roger sitting beside her in their Rowhedge home, Di shares their story…
“Roger kept saying he wanted to get out and do normal things. June and Jason volunteered in their own time to come with us to the pub, and they were brilliant. It was a brilliant time, although very tiring for him and he did fall asleep in the wheelchair, but the experience just made him alive again.
We were there for a good two hours, and all his friends were absolutely over the moon. In fact one of them sent me a message the next day and said what incredible people June and Jason were for making that happen. It was a really good day out.
Virtual Ward is incredible. To start with, Roger wasn’t keen on having strangers attend to his personal care. For about a week, Roger was all ‘oh those women again’. But after that, it’s now ‘my ladies are here!’
They get him washed head to toe, dressed, teeth done, all personal care. They got him in the bath because that’s what he wanted to do, he wanted to have a bath.
I can honestly say Virtual Ward has been the most amazing help. Not just to Roger but to me as well. They look after me and make sure I’m OK. If I’m upset, they’ll sit and talk to me. They are just angels, absolutely amazing. You get to know them and they’re just like family. Absolutely love them all to bits.
They phone in the evening and even if I just need someone to talk to, they’ll come out and have a chat with me to make sure I’m OK. One of the days I was really upset and they were just wonderful sitting and talking with me for 10 minutes, and I felt so much better.
Plus it’s good to have the SinglePoint helpline as well. That has been brilliant because if I have any concerns about Roger, I’ve only got to phone and it’s sorted. Fantastic. We used it one night quite late and they came out around midnight time because Roger was a bit confused.
I’ve had complementary therapy as well. I had four massages at the Joan Tomkins Centre and they phoned me up the other day and put me in for another four which I’ll be having soon. I was told I need to do something once a week for myself, so that really helped and it’s absolutely wonderful.
So we’ve got amazing support and I couldn’t do it without them. I couldn’t.
Roger went into the Hospice and after a night he decided he wanted to go home again and that’s when Virtual Ward began visiting us.
He’s said now all care is to be at home because that is where he wants to be and that is where he is comfy. It’s all written down in the My Care Choices Record which was easy to fill in.
They are part of our lives now. The more you see them, the closer you get. And now they know him, they can tell if he’s OK. They know if his breathing is not right. So that’s a great help because then they report it back to the nurses Debbie or Becky, who is in charge of Virtual Ward, and then they can try and sort something out. Debbie comes out to see us once a week to have a chat with Roger and make sure he’s OK. I love her to bits. All in all, amazing people, I wouldn’t want to be without them.
It is absolutely a big support to both of us. For Roger, it’s personal care, for me it’s mental health care, I guess. They are always at the end of a phone. They truly are angels and we said it right at the beginning. They’re not just ‘come in, do this, do that, see you later’. No, they take their time, and they really make our day feel better when they arrive in the mornings, especially when we’ve had a bad night. We have good days and then all of a sudden, we’ll have a bad one chucked in.
If you’re told you’re going to have Virtual Ward in and you think, oh my God, no I don’t want that, I don’t want carers; I would say they are really kind, caring, understanding. Just give them a chance because once you’ve had them in, you’ll notice such a difference. So for anyone who thinks, ‘oh, I’m not having care, I don’t need that’, just let them come and give them a chance.
They all have a sense of humour, that’s what I like about them because you can really have a laugh and a joke. We just have such a laugh and that’s good for me as well. We can’t get out, so I don’t see that many people. We have a couple of friends who come and sit with Roger if I need to go shopping or whatever but we don’t get out a lot.
The Virtual Ward people always have a smile on their face, always, and that is amazing. So don’t be afraid to ask for help. I think people hear Hospice and think, oh dear, this is it. I didn’t realise until we were referred just what an amazing support network they can give you.
Roger is my world, he’s my absolute everything and I will do anything for him. He is my absolute rock. I lost my son when he was 17 in a car accident and Roger was the one that got me through. Without him, there would be nothing so he is my absolute everything. We’re a team, aren’t we, darling? We are, we’re a team.”
To find out more about St Helena Hospice’s Virtual Ward and how they help patients in need, head to their website below.