Patient’s family praises hospice

As Ron Livermore watched the mother duck trooping her little chicks around the gardens at St Wilfrid’s Hospice, it amused him enormously. According to his daughter, Debbie Scott, it brought a bit of joy during his 18-day Inpatient Unit stay.

Ron, 87, had been battling prostate cancer for five years when he was referred to the hospice team for palliative care. The home care team became involved in his care, visiting him at home every few weeks and ensuring he had the correct level of pain killers to control his pain.

The family was supported by Nurse Line, the hospice’s 24-hour helpline, and they were encouraged to visit the hospice to get a feel for the place. Ron’s daughter, Debbie, said: ‘The volunteer staff showed Dad, Mum and me around. It was a very calm atmosphere and Dad made the decision there and then that this was where he wanted to be, nothing else would do.

‘A few months later when it was time to go into the hospice, it all happened smoothly, and it was an amazing transition from Dad’s flat to the hospice. Dad went straight into the ward and mum and I followed. A difficult, sad time was made easier knowing he would be well cared for, and it was a massive help to mum. She was finding it so tough having him at home. She didn’t like leaving him, but knew he was in good hands.

‘We tried to make his room homely by bringing in photographs and some of his favourite music discs to play to him. Mind you, one nurse used to sing Take That songs. He didn’t like them, so he’d tell her to shut up – all in good spirits, of course!

‘The nurses were always so helpful and there the minute you needed them. They were always checking to make sure he was okay, and everyone was so caring and easy to talk to.

‘I remember a day when we had a call from a nurse asking if he was allowed to stay in bed that day. Mum was an auxiliary nurse and thought things should be done properly, but she was worried he made her sound like an ogre! He was so tired and, of course, Mum said it was fine – as long as he was wearing clean pyjamas. We always felt the nurses were listening to what Dad wanted and needed,’ Debbie said.

Ron was born in Southend and was married to Betty for 61 years. As well as Debbie, they had a son, Michael. Ron spent most of his working life with Royal Mail, reaching supervisor level, and moved to Hailsham in his 80s to be nearer to Debbie.

He was passionate about the Red Cross, and for many years he helped to train new members, and also manned the first aid hut on Southend seafront – which also meant he got to spend many happy days sitting on the beach with his family. Ron was awarded the Voluntary Medical Service Medal for over 30 years of service as a volunteer, and also received a Long Service Achiever Award from Royal Mail.

After retiring from the Red Cross, Ron still needed something to occupy his time, so he and Betty joined the Rayleigh Number One Pensioners Club, where they enjoyed bingo, dancing, and other social events, and where Ron took on the job of treasurer.

Despite keeping busy with his outside interests, family was always his number one priority. ‘He was a fantastic dad who loved his family and was so proud of us all. Although he was very quiet, he had a good sense of humour and had eyes that twinkled, like he was up to no good. He’d sit in a room and you could almost forget he was there…until he suddenly piped up! He was well respected, and I don’t think anyone had a bad word to say about him,’ Debbie said.

‘He was besotted with his great grandson Oscar and doted on him. That was one of the saddest things when he was ill – he was so regretful he wouldn’t see Oscar anymore.

‘When Dad was dying, if we hadn’t had the hospice, it would have looked very different for him. He wouldn’t have had as much peace, and to see him stressed in his last days of his life would have been awful. You gave him a peaceful end and he was ready to go when he did.

‘The hospice staff were absolutely amazing and always did their job with a smile. My Dad was so well cared for and virtually pain free until the end of his life. We cannot thank the hospice staff enough for the care and support provided at one of the most difficult times in our lives.

‘We’ve always supported the hospice movement and knew St Wilfrid’s existed. However, we weren’t completely aware of all the external care services the hospice provides. From nurses that visit you at home, to the Nurse Line telephone service which you can call at any time of the day or night, we always knew someone would be there. The support network was incredible.

‘The support to Mum after Dad died was very good, too. Hospice staff phoned her regularly to see if she needed anything. She was okay as she had family nearby and tremendous family support, but it would have been invaluable to someone who wasn’t in that situation.

‘Since Dad died, we’ve supported the hospice with ad hoc donations, my mum knits gloves which she donated to the shop in Hailsham and I made many face masks which I sold online during Covid and raised £2,000 for, all of which was donated to St Wilfrid’s.

‘I believe it’s so very important for everyone to support their local hospice as the chances are we will all need, or know someone who will need, their services in one way or another in the future,’ Debbie said.

Pictured: Debbie and Ron

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