To mark the beginning of national Hospice Care Week, widow Jacqui Taylor has told of the wonderful care she and her family received from the Prospect Hospice when her husband, Simon, had incurable cancer.
For her and her loved ones, the staff at the Prospect were like an extension to her family.
Oil company executive Mr Taylor, a keen sportsman and talented musician from West Overton, near Marlborough, died at Prospect in Wroughton in November last year, aged just 49, and his widow has put her full support behind a week of activities by the hospice showcasing the variety of services it provides for its patients and their families.
The theme of the week is Be Surprised, a motif which has strong echoes of Mrs Taylor’s own reaction when it was first suggested Simon could benefit from the support of the local hospice.
“I reacted as many people do,” she said. “I didn’t really want to know. My response was just to keep going. Simon was more receptive though, and when it was suggested that Lucinda, the Prospect Nurse Specialist who is one of two working with patients in Marlborough, should come over and talk, I thought it would be like some form of counselling, which didn’t seem like my sort of thing.”
The reality was quite different, however. “When Lucinda came over, she was delightful,” said Mrs Taylor. “It was just like a chat over a cup of coffee, but the advice she gave was remarkable. We had no idea, for example, we could get medical equipment that would help Simon maintain his independence, or that he could attend the day hospice once a week.
“For me, I learned that I could attend the monthly Carers Café at the hospice – a place where I was to meet so many people who were in the same boat as myself. I could even attend pamper days just for carers, which were wonderful.”
Mr Taylor’s first visit to Pros-pect came when he was admitted for respite care, which alarmed some of the Taylors’ friends, but brought real comfort to him as his condition deteriorated.
“Being admitted brought a degree of normality to an otherwise sad situation,” said Mrs Taylor.
“But when friends saw in my email the word ‘hospice’, they were alarmed. I had to remind them he was there for respite care, and when they came to see him, they could see for themselves the care Simon was receiving.”
The support was extended to the wider family, too: “Simon’s parents were able to stay in the overnight room for two nights, and that helped to alleviate their worries,” said Mrs Taylor. “Other visitors were surprised at how busy the hospice was, and that it always felt open and welcoming.
“I felt well cared for too, that there were people I could turn to, and there was even the offer of counselling for our son, who was studying for his A-levels.”
Mrs Taylor’s appreciation of the care Prospect provided in the months before her husband died has led to her and some of her friends setting up a baking group to raise funds for the charity, which receives just over a quarter of its funding from the NHS.
“We call ourselves the Baking Buddies, and have raised more than £1,500 through a coffee morning and, in the spring, a brunch with friends in Marlborough,” she said. “I also donated Simon’s clothes to Prospect’s shop on Marlborough High Street.”
For Mrs Taylor, supporting her local hospice has been a means of expressing her appreciation for the care it showed her and her family. “I have been able to put something back for the support we received and for the care Prospect continues to provide.”