"We made the most of every precious day"

Jennie & Jerry

Jennie and I are sitting on the balcony at Longfield, overlooking the hospice’s tranquil gardens.

Jennie’s here to talk about her husband Jerry: her rock. “What was life like with Jerry?” I ask. “A wonderful adventure,” she replies with a smile. Normally fit and healthy, Jerry fell ill during lockdown in January 2021. Scans revealed a blockage in his bile duct. Shortly afterwards, Jerry was diagnosed with terminal cancer. “His illness, diagnosis and prognosis all happened quickly, so everything was enormously shocking,” says Jennie. “I’m very practical and pragmatic, but I was utterly overwhelmed at this point. Jerry had been in hospital for five weeks and we wanted to get him discharged. It was so important to spend what time he had left in our home, and not in hospital.”

“Your carers arrived the morning after Jerry came home. They organised his personal care with kindness and professionalism,” Jennie tells me. “Their experience, compassion and good humour helped us settle into a rhythm of being back home in such different circumstances.”

Right now, we’re working across Gloucestershire, providing hands-on end-of-life care in people’s homes. We care around the clock, visiting each family up to three times a day and overnight too. As well as caring for patients, we offer their loved ones practical advice, emotional support and a much-needed break.

“Your visits gave me space to run an errand, have a shower, cry in private,” Jennie told me. When we’re not on the road, we’re just a phone call away. Our support line, run by registered nurses, is open from 7am until 10:30pm every day. All the services we provide are completely free. Because when time is precious, the last thing you should be worrying about is money.

For Jennie, and the hundreds of other people we support each year, our care is needed urgently – the difference we make immeasurable. “People think hospice care is sad, I would say the opposite. It is quietly joyful,” says Jennie. “We could have been in tears constantly; a terminal illness is overwhelming in so many ways. Longfield helped us cope, so our time together was precious and intense, creating memories to cherish.” Jennie was talking to Longfield’s Sarah Davidson.

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