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Patrick and Helen’s Story

24-Aug-2016

Patrick and Helen’s Story

‘’I felt at the time and feel now that I am held in the palm of friends who care.’’

Patrick Warrington was born in India in 1933 where his Father worked for the Bank of India. At the age of 12 Patrick was sent home to Ireland to attend boarding school,
spending holidays with his cousins and their parents. His younger sister Felicity stayed in India. After the war the family were reunited and made Ireland their home.Patrick went to Trinity College University of Dublin where he studied engineering. On moving to the UK Patrick became MD of an electronics company which he set up with 2 colleagues and remained with the company until retirement. Classical music was a passion throughout Patrick’s life and he played the piano with great skill. Helen and Patrick married in 1992 and between them have four children and 6 grandchildren, the most recent being Maya who was born just as Patrick passed away.

On retiring Patrick and Helen moved to Ulverston and packed lots into the years before Patrick became ill. They had enjoyed fell walking for many years and continued to do so. Patrick was a member of the Ulverston Writers and was a prolific writer of poetry, stories and plays, a number of which were broadcast on Radio and published in anthologies. Patrick was very much loved and respected by not just his family but the local community as well as his beloved miniature poodle Jess.

Helen kindly wrote to St.Mary’s Hospice thanking us for the care and support they both received during Patrick’s final illness. Helen has agreed to share their story in the hope that their experience will encourage other families to seek the support they need.

Patrick suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Bodies Dementia both of which were managed well with medication. Helen was his full time carer but they managed to continue with activities and interests. In January 2015 Patrick began to deteriorate and he was diagnosed with end stage renal failure and multiple myelomas both conditions terminal. The family made the brave decision not go down the route of treatment in the best interests of Patrick. The Macmillan nurse referred Patrick to the Hospice and both were invited to join the Wednesday afternoon care sessions in March.

Helen’s first experience of St Mary’s was ‘’A very caring reassuring place to come. I was quite emotional that first day and had encountered difficulty parking and got into a bit of a state, but I received amazing support from Jenny Stalker, the sister in charge who arranged for a volunteer driver to bring us in the future. These afternoons were very good for Patrick he was able to engage with other people and appreciate the various activities in his own way’’.

Following this Helen took ‘’the huge decision’’ for Patrick to come into the Hospice for respite care as she was very tired. Patrick could no longer be left alone as his mobility became worse. To help with this big step Helen created a memory book to accompany Patrick ‘’If I was letting someone else look after Patrick they need to know about him and his family, who he had been and who he was now’’. Helen filled a scrap book with Patrick’s life story and photos of family, friends and Jess. This provided a starting point for the staff to know him and provided reassurance for Helen.

Helen said about respite care ‘’ Everyone was so caring and friendly. I didn’t feel a nuisance when I asked questions and I was cared for as well, the staff made sure I had time out and did not spend all my time visiting. All this took away the fear and guilt at having left Patrick, I was able to go home and not feel I had abandoned him’’.

Patrick returned home and continued to have a quality of life with Helen, Jess and family. However on September 18th Patrick suddenly became very unwell and was admitted to Furness General Hospital for assessment. ‘’ The staff were brilliant’’
Patrick deteriorated further and Helen requested the Hospice team be informed early Tuesday morning , I knew Patrick was dying and hospital was not where I wanted him to be.’’ Maggie (Dr Deytrikh) and Helen the Liaison Nurse came quickly Maggie took one look at my face, hugged me and said he is coming to us. Because Patrick had been in for respite and I had met Maggie I knew I could trust St Mary’s implicitly with my Patrick’s care. He was moved very quickly and Matt the staff nurse on duty was incredible, I was asked what I wanted for Patrick and if we had talked about his wishes, I could honestly answer yes and within a short time Patrick was peaceful and comfortable.”

Helen did not leave Patrick from that moment. Her daughter and stepdaughter arrived quickly and were a source of great support. They worked out a protocol for the days ahead, Helen and her daughter stayed all the time ,Patrick’s daughter opted to not to stay at night but did all the daytime running around as needed. They agreed no tears in the room, just normal chat and laughter and always some of Patrick’s favourite music playing. ‘’We couldn’t change what was happening but if Patrick could sense or hear anything he would think it was a normal day with voices he knew and loved and music he enjoyed’’.

Helen understands the dilemma every family goes through at this time.
‘’When you are caring for someone very dear to you promises are made. Originally I wanted Patrick to be at home but allowing him to be in the Hospice gave me four days of precious quality time with him. I was able to hold him, lie beside him and talk to him without having to think about the nursing care he needed. Those last days were so calm and peaceful and so full of love that I had no fear for myself or Patrick, he simply fell asleep with my arms around him. St Mary’s Hospice staff gave us that wonderful gift.

Patrick died on September 25th 2015 surrounded by his beloved wife and children.

It is important to know that the Hospice support does not end with the death of a loved one, it continues with support for the whole family. Helen attended Bereavement Support and Tai Chi classes.

The Bereavement Support enabled Helen to learn how to manage her grief and how over time it can be healing. The Tai chi taught her how to manage stress through Breathing techniques and how to improve her posture, compromised through being a full time carer. Helen firmly believes that St Mary’s took away the fear from her and Patrick about firstly coming in for respite and then for the final few days of Patrick’s life. ‘’I felt at the time and feel now that I am held in the palm of friends who care.’’


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