Chrissie Lakey, nursing assistant, Thorpe Hall Hospice, shares a precious memory of how her team helped raise the spirits of an elderly couple in their care.
Everyone who looked after Harry and Sally will remember them – because it was such an unusual situation.
They were both in their 80s, had been married for decades and never spent a night apart. And now they were both admitted to Thorpe Hall at the same time, both needing our care.
Harry was very poorly and Sally needed some extra help for a while. Most of all, though, they wanted to stay together. And we were going to do everything we could to make that happen.
As soon as we’d completed their admission, we started moving furniture around so we could push two beds together. That way, they could still lie next to each other as they always had, and cuddle whenever they wanted to.
A spot of pampering
Sally was feeling low and really needed a boost so myself and Sue, the ward clerk, suggested to Sally we gave her a bit of pampering.
She had a skin condition that made her skin flake. We smothered her face and body with cream, and spent a good hour gently washing her, slowing removing all the loose flaky skin.
Then we started on a mini makeover.
The whole time, Sally kept laughing and talking to Harry: "Can you see what the girls are doing to me? ... Harry, she’s putting lipstick on me! ... Oh Harry, I’m loving this, I’ve never had a makeover before."
Harry kept saying he couldn’t wait to see her, adding: "You’ve always looked beautiful to me."
"Sally took one look in the mirror and squealed in delight"
Sally had lost her hair because of her treatment and we found a wig in a box she’d brought with her – she’d never worn it. With her make-up finished, we helped Sally dress in a sparkly top and a black pleated skirt, and then – the crème de la crème – we styled her wig into place.
Sally took one look at herself in the mirror and squealed in delight.
She swished over to Harry’s bed – looking like a shy teenager and said: “Harry, tell me what you think?”
His eyes glistened with tears as Harry looked at his wife. It really was like something out of a movie when he said: “Sally, you look beautiful. Just as beautiful as the day I met you. I love you.”
Sue and I left them as they kissed and Sally laid her head on Harry’s chest for a cuddle.
Harry died a week later. While she was heartbroken, Sally – and indeed Sue and I – were left with a very precious memory to treasure.
Why we go the extra mile for our patients
As many of you will know, when someone has a life-changing or terminal condition, each day matters. To them, and also to the people they love.
That’s why, on top of all the practical, emotional and medical support we offer, we pride ourselves on going the extra mile, to help people and their families to make the most of each day.