Palliative care during a Pandemic – wife of late husband Jack shares moving story

Teresa and Debra

The wife of palliative care patient Jack Adams, has shared her experience of the end of life care her husband received, and thanked all the staff who were involved in looking after him with a generous donation.

Theresa Adams, whose late husband Jack was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease at the beginning of 2020, donated a very generous £4,116 to Macmillan Physiotherapist Debra Alton. The money will be used to help the Specialist Level Palliative Care Team continue to offer the same level of care and support her husband received during his last months.

Theresa has shared her experiences throughout this period – made an even tougher due to the pandemic – and the reason behind her generous donation.

Theresa’s Story

Theresa reported:On the 16 January 2020, my husband Jack Adams was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). We were devastated as Jack was a very healthy 78-year-old gentleman who never ailed and for his age was a very fit man. Jack was referred to a number of different services and after eventually getting in touch with Jack’s GP Dr Bonavia, we were introduced to Debbie, a Macmillan Physiotherapist from the Specialist Level Palliative Care Team. From there we got to know other members of the wider Specialist Level Palliative Care Team and District Nursing Team. Without their help, support, and friendship I am not sure how Jack and my family could have survived for the past year.

“We were first introduced to Debbie from the Macmillan Team who is a Specialist Physiotherapist.  She was extremely helpful and supportive on every occasion and always came up with new ideas and suggestions to make my terminally ill husband as comfortable as he could be. Had it not been for the help and support of the community services my husband would have ended up dying in hospital – probably alone.

“I feel he certainly would not have been given the care he had received from every health care professional we came into contact with. All were so passionate about their jobs, but were not specialists in patients suffering with MND. They made it their business to find out what they could do for us and what could be implemented to give Jack the best care he could receive in the last year of his life.

“Through the help from professionals in Specialist Level Palliative Care and District Nursing Teams, my home was turned into a hospital Ward. For anyone to be slowing dying of this debilitating disease is horrendous; but to be dying through a Pandemic made things extremely hard.

“We were assisted with all the aides that would be needed to keep Jack at home and comfortable.  Anything that was needed we were given, and some things we did not even ask for we received The Life and Times of Jack Adams' bookanyway; as professionals knew what would be required.

“One of the things included was an electric wheelchair, which Jack only got to use a handful of times and also a hospital bed.  We never expected to receive such a high quality standard of care and compassion, and would highly recommend anyone going through something similar to seek help from these fantastic professionals who I call ‘angels in disguise.’

“During his illness, Jack was struggling psychologically. Jack did not usually agree to receive help from anyone and although a good talker, Jack was old fashioned in who he shared his personal feelings with. He’d had some support in the past, but did not feel this benefited him so was initially reluctant to engage with psychological support. Debbie said ‘I think I know just the gentleman that you would be comfortable talking to’ and Jack agreed to see him.

“Jack was introduced to Mel McEvoy, Nurse Consultant in Specialist Level Palliative Care. He opened up to Mel and enjoyed his chats.

“Since 1970, Jack has been writing a book about his life. He was close to the end but due to his deteriorating condition, it looked more and more likely that he would not finish it. Debbie mentioned that Mel had a passion for writing and asked him to help Jack finish his last chapter of his life in his book – which I have now had published.

“Debbie also introduced me to a Psychologist; seeing Jack going through this dreadful debilitating illness was awful and traumatic for me. I too needed some help to cope with the emotional side and caring for Jack through his illness.

“I would like to say how extremely grateful both myself, Jack and my family are of the help, compassion and support we were given from all of the Specialists in Specialist Level Palliative care and District Nurses Team and wider community Services. Without them Jack’s last few months would have been very different.

“Jack sadly passed away at home with me by his side. But, ‘The life and Times of Jack Adams’ will be read and remembered by all his friends and family.

“I cared for Jack at home, which was made possible with the help of various professionals along the way; for which we will be eternally grateful.”

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