Haven has helped me through darkness
ARUNCORN woman who lost her husband to cancer in January shortly after he had been deemed fit enough to work has shared her story of how he was looked after during his final months in Runcorn to mark Hospice Care Week.
Linda Miller, 67, who settled with her husband Alexander years in Runcorn with her son and Alexander’s two daughters having dated for while when younger but set out on separate lives before rekindling the relationship after their marriages ended.
In August last year Alexander, originally from Dagenham, developed lung cancer.
His 10-day stay in Warrington Hospital was followed by a return home and then regular visits to Chester for treatment.
He soon tired of the constant travel on the M56 motorway until the doctor mentioned Halton Haven on Barnfield Avenue, which he said could provide all the treatment under one roof.
Following a meeting with Dr Averil Fountain, Halton Haven medical director, the switch was made and he began visiting the hospice, in Murdishaw, once a week.
When Alexander’s condition deteriorated, Dr Fountain assured them he would have a bed on the hospice’s inpatient unit when the time came, which was January.
He arrived on a Friday and passed away the following Tuesday.
It was during Alexander’s time at the hospice that Linda met Jan Gray who is head of the hospice’s family support team, offering practical and emotional support to patients and their relatives whenever it is needed.
Linda’s difficult situation with Alexander’s illness was aggravated by his benefits payments being stopped because he had been deemed fit enough to work.
Jan was on hand to provide practical help and guidance to rectify this and arranged for a benefits assessor to visit Linda at home and restart his welfare.
She also helped Linda to organise the funeral and gave her a list of departments to contact to handle the administration, and Jan arranged a meeting with a solicitor when Linda was having some other personal concerns, and came along to the meeting with her to help her through it.
After the practical help, Jan suggested that Linda might need some emotional support and suggested counselling.
Linda said she could not praise enough the value of Jan’s work.
She said: “Jan is so helpful and kind. She’s so understanding and nothing was too much trouble for her.
“She said to me ‘if there’s anything you need, I’ll help’ and I was so grateful to hear those words.”
Linda now visits Halton Haven once a week to see Maxine Dixon on the family support team.
She said: “I have found it useful. It’s helped tremendously. The sessions with Maxine have made me feel better. It takes time but I am getting there.”
Praising Jan some more she said: “She’s brilliant, an absolute star.
“I don’t think I would be where I am now without them. I talk and they listen, and it helps me find my own solutions. They’ve helped no end and pulled me through some black times.”
Halton Haven said it will be publishing stories to highlight what it said is its often unknown or misunderstood work.
A spokesman for the hospice said: “There is a common misconception about hospices across the UK with many people believing they are ‘just a place where you go to die.’
“Whilst Halton Haven does provide end of life care for many patients, there is so much more that happens at the hospice.
“Throughout Hospice Care Week, ● Halton Haven will be publishing stories and news every day on their Facebook and Twitter pages in a bid to eradicate these misconceptions and shine a light on what hospice care really means.”
Linda Miller with her late husband Alexander