Terence McDermott’s story

Terence: The hospice to me is a life saver because I’ll tell you, if I hadn’t gone in when I did, I don’t think I would be here now, I was that bad but I wouldn’t give in, I wouldn’t give in to it because of that word hospice, totally, because it’s just totally stubbornness on my side, because I’m not going into hospice, I’m not going down, I’m not coming back out. That’s it generally I think a lot of people have that attitude, but it’s not true. There is nothing that they won’t do or won’t try to get you in a situation that I’m in now, that I’m actually walking out of here.

Norma: The patient can tell us directly what matters to them and we then tailor our care and our care plan to the needs of the patient. So the focus of palliative care is about helping patients to live as well as possible for as long as possible. And we do this by treating pain, but we also treat other physical symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness, nausea, but we also know that physical illness not only affects patients physically but it also affect them psychologically, so palliative care aims to relive stress and distress and we also support family members and loved ones.

Maeve: Rian is a therapy dog here in the hospice so his role here is to provide compassion and comfort. Rian just adds an air of calmness, people they can be getting hard news and they can be dealing with a lot of their own problems and he just helps alleviate that a little bit, just makes it a little bit of a calmer environment for them.

Norma: When people hear the words hospice and palliative care it seems to engender fear in most people’s minds. Rather than palliative care being concerned with death and dying it’s very much about life and living. Patients’ quality of life can really be improved the earlier we get involved in patients’ care and, for some patients, not only does palliative care improve quality of life but it’s been proven that sometimes we can actually extend life.

Our services within the hospice can go out to the patient in their own home, so that may be the community palliative care team visiting the patient at home. Patients can come into us, they can come into us for a clinic appointment or they can come into the day hospice. Of course patients need to be admitted to hospices as well. Patients may be admitted for symptom control, for rehabilitation, for respite and of course a proportion of patients that come into the hospice will be receiving end of life care and that is a really important part of the work that we do.

If you think about a patient who is diagnosed with a life-limiting condition, they don’t just stop living and start dying. They are living right up until the moment of death. So palliative care is very much about supporting the patient and the family to live as well as possible for as long as possible.

Terence: I have prostate cancer. I have it about three, three-and-a-half years. At the beginning now my daughters had a very, very hard time accepting that I have it, and at some stage, some stage it’s going to take me. They know that, I know that. They’ve found it very, very hard to accept the fact that I have cancer and they want to protect me, they really want to wrap me up in a blanket and just say sit there and don’t move in case you hurt yourself. That to me was actually making things worse. They are good now. They had a talk with Dr O’Leary and the rest of the staff there and they are much more at ease and they are much more at ease with me too. Yeah, they are handling it ok now but at some stage they still will want their support. Thanks to them I am able to be at this stage now I’m pain free, I have no nausea and the bowels work due to the injections and I am ready to go home.