Home Is Where The Heart Is

Home Is Where The Heart Is

by Gary Marshall

As part of the Big Give Christmas Challenge, St Peter & St James Hospice hopes to raise £50,000 to support local people through calls and visits at home. Here, Gary Marshall, a Community Nurse Specialist at the hospice, explains why support at home is so important and what caring for local families means to him.

All of our hospice services are focussed on helping people with a terminal illness achieve the best possible quality of life, and in the community team we do this by offering expert advice and support in the comfort of patients’ own homes. While on my visits across Mid Sussex, I might review someone’s medication or work to ease difficult symptoms, offer guidance around the next stages of illness or help somebody put plans in place for the end of their life. Sometimes it’s simply about having a chat to patients and relatives and listening to their worries or helping them to understand what’s happening.

To be welcomed into people’s homes is a privilege. You get to see the real person and paint a vivid picture of their life. I love forming those deeper connections with those I’m supporting. I feel people are often more relaxed at home too, which lends itself to more open conversations. People can be quick to assume that being a nurse in this setting is difficult and depressing. Naturally there are very sad moments, but it’s uplifting too; I get so much out of what I do. I’ve got to know so many wonderful people from all walks of life and I witness the very best of humanity.

Earlier this year for example I supported Debbie, 49, who had sadly found out that her breast cancer had spread and become incurable. Debbie was an amazing woman with a close- knit, supportive family. I was always touched by the amount of love in that house and inspired by Debbie’s vigour and zest for life. She had a wicked sense of humour! Thanks to the generosity of local people, we could ensure that Debbie’s last months were the best they could have been: she was well-informed as she wished, was able to put plans in place, and spent so much precious quality time with her partner, Gary, and her three children. She passed away peacefully at the hospice in May. To have been able to improve her quality of life and put her somewhat at ease was incredibly rewarding.

Every day my job rewards me.