Having been one of the members of the original Steering Group which was tasked with setting up the National Forum for Hospice at Home in 1998, and subsequently launched in September 2000, I am thrilled and highly honoured to be invited to become the first Patron of the National Association for Hospice at Home on its incorporation as a charitable organisation, and I accept the invitation with great pleasure.
I have been passionate about Hospice at Home since my early days as a District Nurse in Southend on Sea in the 1970s, where I became very aware of the desire of many of my patients, as they approached the end of their lives, to be supported and enabled to die in their own homes, surrounded by their families. This crystallized for me in 1984, when my father was dying from prostate cancer, and had had several traumatic admissions to hospital which had sapped his strength and undermined his dignity.
My mother, who had senile dementia, had become acutely distressed by the experience of my father's illness and hospitalization, so when my father suddenly developed pneumonia, I was privileged to have been able to support and care for both my parents at home, where my father died peacefully, in his own bed within twenty four hours of the onset of the pneumonia. I was only too aware that, if I had not been a nurse, my father would have been admitted to hospital as an acute admission, and my parents would have been separated from each other at this sad time, the one thing that neither of them wanted.
The death of my father was undoubtedly the catalyst for my growing passion to develop services to support people with terminal illnesses who wanted to die at home. This passion ultimately motivated me to plan and organise the conference “So why can't I die at Home?” at Little Havens Children's Hospice, Thundersley, Essex in 1998, which culminated in the launch of the National Forum for Hospice at Home at Help the Hospices in September 2000.Back