Real Care Stories: Palliative
Honouring your wishes
Every end of life journey is different, but many people have one thing in common – they wish to spend their final days at home.
In-home palliative care allows you to stay at home while still receiving professional care. No matter what level of care and support you need to be comfortable, we are here for you. Talk to one of our Care Managers today about your situation and we will organise a plan, even if 24-hour care is needed.
To illustrate how our flexible service works, here are some stories from our Australia-wide network.
Faye’s Care Story
Mum needed me as a daughter, not as a nurse.”
Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Faye and her children decided it was important for her to remain at home so they could be in close contact, particularly with COVID-19 limiting the ability for hospital visits. Faye’s two daughters and her son shared her care, but were also juggling full-time work and their own families. CAREGiver Alicia was brought in to support the family and to provide care to Faye when her children couldn’t be there.
Here is Faye’s story, as told by daughter Joy.
“At the beginning of August 2021, Mum had a fall in her garden during the day. While in hospital getting treatment for the fall, there was an incidental finding and we discovered she had pancreatic cancer. At that point, we all started sharing her care day and night.
“The reason for needing extra support was the fact that we were still managing full-time work. Mum was very hesitant and resistant at the start, but Mum just fell in love with Alicia and we were so appreciative of that. Mum also understood that the three of us couldn’t keep doing the 24-hour care.
“Alicia was someone we felt confident with and who could work independently. She was someone who could fulfill Mum’s needs and wishes. She formed a lovely bond with Mum and Olive her dog, which was very important to Mum. She offered flexibility when it came to her hours and the work she did. She would do some housework for Mum, which made a big difference to us. She cleaned out and reorganised one of the kitchen cupboards, which Mum loved because she was very house-proud, so she understood what Mum’s values were and did her best to maintain those for her.
“We had to increase Mum’s care in the last few weeks, so we had some other people from Home Instead come to help in addition to Alicia. The admin staff from Home Instead would bend over backwards to support us as well.
“Mum died on February 3, 2022. Alicia was invaluable for that short time she was with us and really became a part of the family.”
Paul’s Care Story
As he neared the end of his battle with cancer, Paul was eager to pass away in his home. However, he was a tall, bed-bound man in his fifties, and his wife could not physically manage his care.
So, Paul’s medical team managed his pain and symptoms, and two of our CAREGivers took on the rest of his care. Paul’s CAREGivers – one of whom is a former palliative care nurse – visited twice per day to provide personal care to Paul and emotional support to his wife Katy.
It was only a couple of days between the time we received Katy’s enquiry and when Paul arrived home.
Here is Paul’s story, as told by Katy.
“My husband had terminal cancer and wanted to pass away at home. If it wasn’t for Karen and Mardie, Paul wouldn’t have been able to come home, and I will always be grateful for them for helping this to happen. He died with all his family around him and his favourite music playing on the stereo that he had built.
Karen and Mardie helped me take care of him in the last days of his life. They treated him with incredible kindness and humour, even though at times he was understandably not easy. It was important to me to have someone at the end of the phone in times of emergency. The kindness with which they treated him, and the support they gave me, made me feel less alone and less frightened.
They came for a couple of hours each day and made themselves available at night if I needed it but gave me the option of cancelling if I didn’t need the evening visit. Sometimes I needed the night visits and sometimes I didn’t, and they were very flexible.
They were very kind and gentle with my husband and joked with him and took an interest in him and listened with interest when he wanted to tell them things. They never lost sight of the fact that he was a person and not just a patient.”
Lois’s Care Story
After forming a close bond with her CAREGiver Melanie during cancer treatment, Lois specifically requested for Melanie to provide her in-home palliative care. Lois required more care than Melanie could provide alone. So, based on her experience of caring for Lois, Melanie selected two other CAREGivers she knew Lois would connect with.
As well as working with Lois’s doctors, her CAREGivers were attentive to the little things Lois prided herself on – these included painting her nails and organising fresh flowers before visitors arrived. The care provided by Melanie and her team also alleviated some of the pressure on Lois’s son, Simon, who lived nearby.
Here is Lois’s story, as told by Simon.
“My late mother Lois was diagnosed with stage four cancer and was receiving chemotherapy for over three years. She was a very independent woman living by herself, with two sons abroad and one in Brisbane. As she was determined to retain her independent status, she enlisted the services of Home Instead initially to assist with transport to and from treatments and general house care.
Melanie Strydom was Lois’s care manager from Home Instead. From the very beginning and through her experience and understanding, she was able to tailor a package to suit Lois’s initial needs that was cost effective and very efficient.
As her cancer progressed, Lois made the decision to cease treatment and spend her remaining time at peace in her home in palliative care. Melanie – through consultation and agreement with Lois, her family and medical authorities – redesigned and formulated a 24/7 care package. Melanie included in her team two carers, Jan and Alice, whose compassion and care was outstanding; all three ladies truly bonded with Lois, understanding her needs. Lois felt comforted and, above all, safe.
Lois passed peacefully just as she wanted, at home on a bright sunny morning with the team and family present. Melanie, Jan and Alice were there for Lois and her family throughout and after her passing. We will be eternally grateful to them and the Home Instead wider family for the care and compassion they provided.”