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Ruth’s Story

Press release: 06/03/2023

Ruth Hislop and Debbie Evans Hospice Ward Manager

It’s THE most common myth amongst people who may have admired the work of their local hospice from a distance but never had a direct connection with it: A hospice is simply a place where people with terminal illness go to die, perhaps even a place to fear.

Anyone who is currently being looked after in a hospice setting or who has visited relatives, friends, neighbours, colleagues or team mates while they have been cared for in a hospice, particularly our local Hospice of the Good Shepherd at Backford already know just how big a myth that is.

Here, local couple Ruth and Steve Wilson describe how it felt to be told they were being referred to the hospice and what it’s really like to be admitted and cared for by a hospice team…

“When your wife of over 40 years receives a very bleak end-of-life diagnosis and after months of treatment you’re told that you’re being referred to the hospice, your heart sinks. You fear the worst and assume that it’s more or less all over. It’s really distressing – and terrifying – to hear the word ‘hospice’. Devastating really.

“And then admission day comes, you walk in and within minutes of setting foot in the place, everything changes and you suddenly realise it’s not like that at all.”

Steve’s Hislop’s wife Ruth has been an inpatient at The Hospice of the Good Shepherd for over four weeks.

“It may sound strange to some people reading this but despite everything, and what I’m going through, I consider myself very lucky to be here,” said Ruth.

“This is a truly special place where you feel cared for as well as cared about.

“It started almost from the moment we walked in. We were both worried and scared and yet we were soon overwhelmed by the concern and kindness that was being shown to us. Everyone seemed to know what we were going through – there was just so much understanding. It was uplifting.

“The environment here and the facilities are amazing,” Ruth continued. “It doesn’t feel like a hospital setting at all. It’s so peaceful. Yes, I’m unwell and there are challenges but there is joy to be found here, and laughter. The team is always so cheerful and they make you feel as if they are genuinely pleased to see you and be able to care for you.

“The nurses do so much when I am struggling. They’re always there for me in the darker moments, usually at night when I can’t sleep or the pain is bad.  It’s thanks to them that I’m still here,” she added.

“Ruth has defied medical science,” Steve interjected. “Doctors elsewhere told her she would be gone within a week. That was months ago and I’m hoping to take her home for while soon.”

“Being here has completely changed our outlook,” Ruth continued. “The medical and nursing staff here are simply incredible. You never feel like just a number, you’re never made to feel small or unimportant, or that you’re being a nuisance, even in the middle of the night when you need help.

“Everything is done with tenderness and real care. I’ve even been able to continue my watercolour painting while I’ve been here.”

She added:  “Everything feels so different since we got here, compared with the experiences of the previous few months.

“Hope. That’s the greatest gift they have given us.”

Debbie Evans is the Ward Manager at the In-patient Unit and one of the nurses caring for Ruth. “The word ‘privilege’ may well be overused but it’s genuinely how I and my colleagues feel about the work we do in caring for people like Ruth and Steve,” said Debbie.

“At the end of the day, we’re not just caring for the patient: we’re caring for and about their loved ones, close friends, colleagues – anyone who may be emotionally or practically affected by someone’s terminal diagnosis. It may be a different kind of care but it’s caring nonetheless.”

Debbie continued: “It’s not a job for everyone but for those who find their place within hospice care, it’s the most rewarding job there is: often challenging, sometimes emotional but always exceptionally fulfilling.

“It’s fallen to us to be there for people when they are at their most fragile, most vulnerable and most afraid and that makes us very proud. I hope that there’ll be someone there for us if ever we need that level of support in those circumstances.

“There’s no doubt that we need to change perceptions around what it is to be referred for hospice care and I’m so pleased that Ruth and Steve now understand what hospice care really means,” Debbie added.

The Hospice of the Good Shepherd is looking to recruit additional nurses to the hospice care team. Open days for potential applicants are taking place on 15 and 21 March 2023.  Please call us for more information on 01244 851091



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