10 February, 2021

Family members caring for a loved one at home often describe Hospice as a lifeline.

Debbie Gillies says without hospice support, she would have had to choose between her own health and her husband Alan’s wish to stay at home until he died. “If I was ever in any trouble, I could ring Hospice, and someone would come within 30 minutes. It was like a lifeline.”

Until seven years ago, Alan and Debbie ran a successful trucking business together. It was a busy and active life, and they loved it.

Debbie Gilies Feb21 newsletter web

Aged 64, Alan suffered a stroke that disabled the left side of his body, and the couple’s life changed overnight. Having survived testicular cancer a year earlier, Alan was now permanently disabled, and Debbie became his long-term carer.

Fate struck a further blow 18 months ago when Alan was diagnosed with secondary lung cancer. The less mobile he became, the more Debbie struggled with just an hour of carer help each day. Alan was initially opposed to involving Hospice as he believed that would signal ‘the end’ – but a caregiver persuaded him to let Hospice help a few weeks before his death.

“We called Hospice and suddenly all these angels came to help out,” Debbie says. 

Hospice doctor Mandy Parris-Piper liaised with Alan’s GP and reviewed and adjusted his medications, and nurses established regular visits. Social worker Brendon Sakey organised a hospital bed and mobility equipment and worked hard to access more help with Alan’s personal cares.

“Alan told them he wanted to die at home. They were very caring and diplomatic.”

The nurses visited at least every second day and the doctor came weekly, with extra visits as needed.

“I cared for Alan for all those years but towards the end of his life I couldn’t have done it without Hospice.”