“Coping with Pat’s condition was so hard but her weekly visits to Leckhampton Court helped us so much"
Graham explained how the staff at Leckhampton Court Hospice helped his wife during the progression of MND.
Graham and Patricia Powell were married for 45 years, during that time they lived life to the full. They undertook many challenges together and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They walked the Great Wall of China, trekked to Machu Picchu, strolled around the Pyramids and strode through the Amazon Rain Forest. Living life to the full proved exactly the right thing to do, for, in the summer of 2010, Pat was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. She died peacefully at home in October 2011. Graham was devastated, as were their two daughters.
“The illness first showed in Pat’s hands – she found it difficult to grip things. Then as the illness took hold, she had to use a wheelchair and she couldn’t speak. But she was still my Pat – 65 years of age but looked 35 with her glossy black hair, resilient and kind nature and joy for life. I am grateful to Sue Ryder for helping Pat to have the best possible quality of life in her last few months.”
It was the NHS co-ordinator who put Graham and Pat in touch with Sue Ryder. Graham said: “The NHS co-ordinator was great at making sure we had the equipment Pat needed when she needed it, such as a hoist and special chairs. And she told us about the Day Hospice at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court.”
“As well as having her symptoms assessed and managed, Pat managed to have fun, as did the other people who attended the Day Hospice. One day I arrived to pick her up and they were all roaring with laughter. Even though Pat couldn’t speak by then, I knew she was having a good time.
“Her visits to the Day Hospice also gave me a chance to have a break to catch up with things such as the food shopping and to go swimming. It was good for us both but I looked forward to her coming home. It was difficult, though, to keep up with Pat’s changing needs as the disease progressed so quickly. When she could no longer use her hands, I learnt to cook, with Pat’s help. But I soon had to cook a whole new set of foods when Pat’s throat was affected and she couldn’t swallow properly.
"It was good for her to be with people who were as seriously ill as she was. She made a lot of new friends – there was great comradeship. She really enjoyed the art sessions and having someone read to her. Reading is one of life’s great pleasures but when you can’t turn a page it is very difficult.
Hospice at Home - a life-line at a time of need
“The staff and volunteers at Sue Ryder are absolutely brilliant – I can’t sing their praises high enough. They not only looked after Pat and made sure she was comfortable and still enjoyed life, they also helped me to sort out some practicalities such as accessing social services’ funds to pay for social care.
“As she got more and more disabled by her illness, Pat spent two weeks at the hospice as an inpatient. Her symptoms were very distressing by then and it was good to know they were being managed properly. The nurses are first class - nothing was too much trouble. The environment is calm and comforting and there is no rigid regime - I could visit Pat when I wanted to, make a cup of tea when I needed one and I didn’t feel alone. The staff gave me a contact number that I could call day or night and they would be there. It was good to have that reassurance.
“Only one time did she look sad about me leaving her, so with the help of Sue Ryder’s Hospice at Home service, I took her home. She died that night where she wanted to be – at home. I’m so glad she was able to achieve that wish, and to do it peacefully and without pain.”
Lasting legacy of our care
Two months after Pat’s death and Graham is managing better than he thought he would be. “This is due largely to my great family and friends but also to the bereavement support from Sue Ryder. I’m very grateful to the hospice for its continued support – it is helping me to cope.
“I keep myself very busy and still enjoy walking. I’m quite interested in the charity’s fundraising challenges. My daughter did a parachute jump to raise money for Sue Ryder. And, who knows, maybe one day I will trek across the Sahara Desert in Pat’s honour to raise money for this phenomenal charity. What they do is tremendous.”
Read more about services at Leckhampton Court Hospice