Since launching in April 2019, more than 1,950 patients and their families in Great Yarmouth and Waveney have been supported by the free specialist palliative care provided by the joint partnership of St Elizabeth Hospice and East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH).
Typically living with conditions such as cancer, heart failure, pulmonary fibrosis and neurological disorder, these patients have received free care through the partnership’s varied, specialist palliative care provision available at Beccles Hospital, in the community and through the service’s 24-hour advice line, OneCall.
One local resident who received this service was Tim Lathwell, of Carlton Colville in Suffolk. His family explain why the support both Tim and they received was so vital during difficult times.
“The service was like a lifeline to Tim and our family,” explained Tim’s wife Wendy Lathwell.
“They treated him like a person and not like a patient and they enabled us as a family to concentrate on being there for Tim when it mattered most.”
Tim was a familiar face to many in Lowestoft and the surrounding area, through working for East Suffolk Council in his role cleaning council properties.
Following a short period of ill health, test results at James Paget University Hospitals found Tim to be suffering from an incurable brain tumour.
After this diagnosis in November 2020, he received care at James Paget University Hospital and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, before coming home to Carlton Colville where Wendy and her son Blanes cared for him.
She said: “Before we knew about the service, Blanes and I had been caring for Tim at home. We wanted to do our best to help him but at times it felt like we were on our own.
“As soon as the specialist palliative care nurses began supporting us things became easier. Tim was a straightforward person and when he was told he only had two to three months to live, his first concern was how Blanes and I would be in the future. He was scared, as anyone would be, but the support the nurses gave to me made him feel much more comfortable.”
It was important to both Tim and his family that he would be able to die at home, in an environment that was warm and familiar, with his family beside him.
With daily visits from ECCH nurses, 24/7 support from St Elizabeth Hospice’s OneCall phone service and provision of equipment to make the family home more accessible to Tim, the specialist palliative care team was able to ensure his wishes were met when he died aged 59-years-old on 7th January at his home in Carlton Colville.
“We got through it but I don’t think we would have done on our own and without the team’s support Tim would not have had such a good end of life,” said Wendy.
“The staff always had the time to talk to me and let me ask any questions I had, which was reassuring during a time which felt very uncertain.
“Knowing we could ask for support at any time of day through the OneCall service was also reassuring and when we did they were always very helpful and if needed ECCH nurses would visit us quickly to give extra support.
“Most importantly though Tim was able to die at home. Once we knew his condition was incurable, we promised ourselves Tim would stay at home so we would be together until he passed. Without the support of the specialist palliative care team I am not sure this would have been possible and we are so grateful to them that we were able to fulfil his wishes.
“I would encourage anyone who has a loved one that could benefit from this support to get in contact. The staff understand how to help and the respect and support you will receive will see you through and make a difficult time much easier.”
For more information about the partnership’s services in Great Yarmouth and Waveney visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/how-we-can-help/hospice-care/great-yarmouth_and-waveney.
To contact the 24-hour specialist palliative care advice line, OneCall, call 0800 567 0111.