Our experience with Chapman House Residential Hospice Grey Bruce was an incredible gift in our mom’s final hours and following her passing. The staff culture and the Hospice environment provided us with comfort and solace during the most difficult time for our family in February 2020
Anne was a Renal dialysis patient at Grey Bruce Health Services (GBHS) and London Health Sciences Centre for many years prior to our Hospice stay. She attended countless medical appointments and lengthy hospital stays due to complications with her diabetes and renal failure. 2 years before her passing, these appointments and stays became longer in duration and more frequent. Her final hospitalization was 3 weeks long. It was determined, her body was no longer benefiting from the dialysis treatments she had been receiving 3 days/week for the past 6 years and an MRSA strain of pneumonia had taken a strong hold on her lungs. Doctors shared they strongly recommended palliative care moving forward.
We had heard some heartwarming stories of Hospice care experiences from others and our family agreed it was important that we seek the best possible care for our mom, our angel who gave herself and her love so freely and easily for 73 +years.
Doctors and Nurses of GBHS along with Hospice staff expedited the urgent intake process. It only took moments to put the transfer in place, it seemed like forever, as we knew we didn’t have long. During the transition period before the transfer took place, we received in person visits and phone calls from Hospice staff sorting details prior to the transfer. Each interaction was compassionate and considerate to an experience that was previously very foreign to our family.
When we arrived, the nursing staff greeted us and immediately began with their regime to treat our mom, applying vitamin e to her broken skin and lips, they washed her up, changed her to a beautiful nightgown and made her as comfortable as possible. We all noticed the wince she carried on her face for so long had disappeared. Staff shared details of the House and offered our family a tour. Instantly, our family felt a sense of peace and tranquility with our decision to move mom and begin this journey with her. Little did we know, this was only the beginning of what became the first of many incredible experiences during our short stay.
Over the next 3 hours, the staff offered us literature, advice, support and education regarding what to expect, how to support our family members and our young children to cope, but most of all, they allowed us to simply be present and care for our mom without having to provide the care. We were genuinely able to be with her, to love her and comfort her, to share things we hadn’t yet shared with her, to sing to her and play her favourite music.
Hospice allowed us to be present with our families while they struggled with the incredible loss we were all about to endure. It allowed our children to be present all day long making use of the playroom and the never ending ice cream, surrounding her with the love she craved and deserved, it allowed us to decorate her room to provide as an
oasis for her final hours. Unlike the hospital setting, the enormous room and ample beds and bedding permitted our family to stay comfortably by her side the entire time and the huge glass doors in her room allowed for the sun to shine upon her face, as intended, a true Irish blessing…
When the time came that our mom was taking her final breaths, Matthew, mom’s nurse came to the room and confirmed what we knew was happening before us. He ever so kindly, sat on the edge of the bed and placed his hand on mom, giving her and us added comfort.
Following her passing, we were given the opportunity to make calls and begin the grieving process together as a family in the comfort of the family room. We were under the assumption that because she passed shortly after midnight, we would need to vacate the house. Rather, we were welcomed to stay with our mom for the night. When we returned to the room after calling family over seas, there was a butterfly on her doorway that signified her passing, she looked angelic. She had been placed in a peaceful position, hands on her chest, draped with a quilt donated by a local quilting guild in Markdale. We were able to sit with her and rest beside her.
In the morning, we made arrangements with the Hospice staff for her “honour guard”. More family arrived and they too were able to pay their respects while she continued to lay so peacefully in her room. The staff arranged the funeral home transfer details directly while we visited family and close friends. When the time came to make our departure, the residence played a song chosen by us, Homes of Donegal….(a classic Irish melody that she loved), as she was transported out the front doors of Chapman House. Staff joined us lining the hallway silently as we serenaded her off. It’s a memory we hold dear of our stay as it offered our family and our moms legacy dignity, integrity, respect, compassion and a strong sense of importance.
Later in the evening, we received a call from Dr. Hodgson checking in on us to ensure we were coping and to let us know the staff were thinking of us. Again, a small but significant gesture that meant so much then and now…
Our experience isn’t uncommon to that of others who have stayed at Chapman House…Hospice exposed us to a level of care that we simply never knew existed. From the medical staff who catered to our every need, to the volunteers who greeted us, stopped into the room to check on us and share snacks and comfort, offering us only kindness and compassion, in a beautiful and welcoming, clean atmosphere. Their practices are considered typical, but their very sweet little touches and gestures sincerely made all the difference to our family. We consider our entire experience a gift, a blessing, a cherished memory and an honourable send off to a strong and admirable woman, wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, daughter, sister and friend that so many loved and adored.
Words can’t begin to express our gratitude to the staff and volunteers who operate this amazing facility. It is a precious asset to our community and to everyone who has the privilege of visiting, even if it’s just for a very short while
– Shared with love by Anne’s daughter, Lisa Campbell