Margaret Ottaway, a clinical nurse specialist at Rennie Grove Hospice Care, writes to Bucks Free Press readers:

Thanks to local support, Rennie Grove’s hospice at home nurses have been able to keep visiting patients in their own homes throughout the pandemic.

Now, we have launched our spring appeal, focusing on funding vital specialist care for an increasing number of patients with life-limiting illness.

For families facing life-limiting illness, the pandemic has been a source of extra worry and uncertainty, especially because a stay in hospital means no visiting, which nobody wants when time is already short.

Rennie Grove’s hospice at home nurses support the whole family to understand each stage of a patient’s illness and use their experience in end-of-life care to avoid medical emergencies wherever possible.

By arranging for ‘just in case’ medication to be kept securely in a patient’s home, they can visit at any time of the day or night should a patient’s condition deteriorate suddenly.

It’s that fast response that can prevent hospital admissions – alongside the peace of mind that comes from knowing the specialist nurses are just a phone call away.

In the appeal, a former patient’s wife, Diane, shared her story about how the nurses’ support meant her husband, Francis (pictured above with his children), was able to spend his final days at home with his family.

She said: ‘Having Francis at home with us made such a difference, especially towards the end.

‘Francis’ deterioration was so sudden – so rapid – that I wasn’t ready. I just kept thinking ‘it’s too close – too soon.’

‘But the nurses knew and advised me, with their trademark compassion and clarity, about my son who was away at university, ‘you need to bring him home now – the end of the week will be too late.’

‘Edwin missed the chance to say goodbye to his granddad. I’m so grateful he had the chance to say goodbye to his dad.’

The spring appeal will raise vital funds to ensure that more local families have the same chance to stay at home.