January 26, 2021

Fulfilling a Person's Wishes

Most people want to receive care at home where they are more familiar and comfortable with their surroundings and can see their loved ones regularly. Our hospice program helps make this possible for hundreds of people each year, including Richard, who lived in his Pembroke home for 72 years.

“He [Richard] established the rule firmly with everybody and made it clear that he wasn’t leaving the house,” said Louis, his son-in-law. “In-home hospice allowed us to fulfill his wishes to stay home.” 

Richard served his country during World War II, got married to Glorie in 1948, and stayed in Pembroke. He worked for Duracrete Block Co. for many years as well as other construction companies. 

“He loved to be outside and he loved running heavy equipment,” said Glorie, Richard’s daughter. “He eventually worked at General Electric in Hooksett and said even though it was the best thing he ever did, he still missed being outside, and that’s why he continued to do it part time.” 

“He stayed active,” she added. “He was driving up until March when the COVID-19 pandemic started.” 

Two months later,  Richard began receiving home care including physical therapy and occupational therapy as his health deteriorated. His primary care doctor recommended that the family consider end-of-life care.   

“Davis [Richmond, a hospice medical social worker] visited, and dad was a part of the conversation,” Glorie said. “Dad had been hospitalized the Thursday before Mother’s Day and of course we couldn’t be there to see him [due to COVID-19 visitor restrictions]. That was really hard on him and he didn’t want that experience again where we wouldn’t be able to see him.” 

In-Home Hospice Care

Richard was admitted to home hospice services on June 16. “The biggest thing is that the hospice team reassured us that we were doing the right thing,” Louis said. “They made it clear his comfort was first and foremost and what they were going to do and what we were going to do.”

Glorie and Louis said that hospice team members were attentive to Richard’s needs and taught them what they needed to do for Richard. 

“All the different people who visited just came from helping someone else and you know they are going to help somebody else after,” Louis said. “Their focus was here. You cannot compare other cases, but they adapted their approach and their attitude to this situation.”

“Duane [Bailey, a hospice spiritual care counselor] got my dad to talk about things that he wouldn’t talk about with anyone,” Glorie said. “Duane would bring up a subject and sit there quietly waiting for my dad to say something. It seemed like the silence would go on forever and then dad would come up with something. Duane took his time to listen and not rush.”

When Glorie and Louis called and asked questions, they were able to talk with someone right away and said that the hospice team was always patient and supportive.

“Richard’s bedroom and bathroom were upstairs,” Louis said. “At the time, he would come downstairs, do his puzzles, and have his meals, but he was getting tired much quicker. He slept in a recliner and had not slept in a bed for two years [since his wife passed away]. The hospital bed was now in the living room and he wouldn’t even look at it.”

As time passed, Richard began using the bed and stopped some of his routine such as reading the newspaper and watching television.

Glorie said her father’s condition worsened during his last few days and he passed away peacefully at age 92 on September 15, 2020, in his home. Days before, Shannon Pickering, a hospice registered nurse, alerted the family that the end was near.

“We were surprised that he passed away as fast as he did,” Glorie said. “I spent a few nights in the living room with him and Louis was with him on the third night.”

“That whole day, he wasn’t able to speak,” Louis said. “He would kind of mumble but in his sleep, but he wasn’t speaking very clearly. The last thing he said was, ‘Is there room enough for me in there?’ I fell asleep and when I woke up, he had passed.” 

“Things you never think you are going to be able to do or going to have to do, you do, with the support of the team who gave us pep talks and the things we needed to hear,” Glorie said. 

“Shannon would say, ‘It’s rough, but you are going to be so happy you did it after the fact,’” she added. “I don’t know how she stays so up. She is amazing. I know when Shannon was taking care of Dad she had a lot of other cases, but the high level of care and compassion never wavered. Everybody who came to the house, from the people who took his blood, set up his equipment or checked his comfort, were just so good with him and us.”