Jason McCombs, 38, is a Day Hospice patient who has stayed at the Hospice for a fortnight and receives support at home.
I was referred to the Day Hospice on New Years Eve 2008. My doctor said ‘I think you should go into the Hospice.’ Because I’m only 38, I wondered if it was my kind of thing and thought ‘Oh dear it’s one of those places’. He said ‘Don’t worry, it will be a break for you and it will be a break for Janet.’ She gets stressed out, she has to help me and is my carer. So it does affect her more than it does me. I went for a look around and then started the week after.
They made me feel so relaxed. It’s so welcoming, and it changed my mind on how I thought it was going to be when I first got there. Now I look forward to going. It’s a good break for Janet as well because she looks after me, she takes care of me, and that one day off, it’s a lot. It does make a big difference to me and to Janet and our two girls. I come home and I’m more relaxed and I’m more chilled out, and Janet’s had a good day reading or whatever. She’s just chilled out for the whole day without a worry. If there were any problems you’ve got doctors and nurses there who know what they’re doing, and Janet knows that when I go there.
You have to see the doctor, he assesses you to make sure you’re alright, so if you fall ill there’s someone there. There’s always people running around and they throw their arms around you and say ‘Oh Jason, it’s nice to see you.’ I’m a massive tea drinker, I drink it like its going out of fashion, and they call to me as soon as I walk through the door ‘Do you want a cup of tea Jase?’ I should praise the voluntary drivers as well. Peter and Terry – brilliant guys, I could chat to them all day.
People are there for the same reason you are. They’re ill just as much as you are, so they’re not there to patronise you or anything like that, they’re there for the same as you. It makes it easier for yourself to understand what they’re going through. Some of them are in a bad way, and some of them aren’t. They put a brave face on, they show happiness, they don’t sit around and mope or things like that.
Just give it a go. And if you don’t like it the day you go, you can make your mind up there and then. But try it first. I was afraid to go. I’ll admit it, I was scared. I was scared I’d be the youngest one there and everyone else would be in their eighties or nineties. It’s not like that. You’ve got different ages. There’s a guy just a couple of years older than me. I don’t stand out.
I was really ill so I went on the ward. Anything you wanted, you just buzzed and said ‘Can I have a cup of tea’ and they’d bring you one. No ifs, no buts, no nothing, Not half an hour later or an hour later, five minutes and its there. And the meals – you can’t fault the meals. I was waking up to fully cooked breakfasts and they were marvellous.
It was just brilliant, I just felt so relaxed, so chilled. The nurses were fantastic, I got on so well with them. Not one of them complains at all about anything and I think that’s brilliant. They don’t leave you on your own, they walk alongside you.
The best thing was they threw a party for my daughter. It was her 16th birthday when I was in the Hospice and they did a cake and sandwiches and crisps and all that kind of thing for her, with balloons and banners and everything in the room. It was absolutely fantastic. When she came in she was over the moon.
The two weeks I stayed in there they altered all my pills, they changed everything around, and it was for the better. They altered everything and I came out 100% better than I went in, so you can tell they make a hell of a difference.
They’re still in touch with us now because they’re changing a few things round for us. I’ve lost part of my memory and my balance, and they’ve given me a recliner chair and a table. They’re also giving me a hospital bed upstairs because I struggle. I can’t climb the stairs properly so they’ve put a chair on the stairs, so if I come up the stairs and I get out of breath I can stop for five minutes and just sit there for a little bit until I feel that I can get up and carry on. They don’t just send you home and say ‘Right, we’ll see you next Thursday.’ They say ‘What do you need?’ They’ve done everything, they’ve given us a new wheelchair, it’s just… everything.
Jeff, the social worker, has helped me with my funeral wishes. He managed to get me a blue badge, it took a while to get it because they kept saying ‘No’, so he helped with that. Again, they just don’t forget about you, they’re there. They always say ‘If there’s anything else you need just pick up the phone and let us know.’
Its nice to be home, but they’re always there if we need them. It’s just amazing. I can’t knock it, I’m just glad to go there.