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Family thanks staff for father's care

Pictured left to right: Sophie Sinclair and Becky Shutt were presented with their UHNM Hero certificates on behalf of Terry's family

A family have thanked staff on ward 103 for their care and compassion. Terry Heath, 55, passed away last August after suffering a stroke and other complications. Terry’s daughter Nicola Langley-Heath wrote on behalf of the family to express their appreciation.

The family have given the UHNM Hero award to Cheryl Berrisford, Becky Shutt, Sherrie Bailey and Sophie Sinclair in recognition of their exemplary care.

Nicola said: “After dad was transferred from A&E to ward 103, we were greeted by a lovely nurse named Cheryl Berrisford, who came to speak to us once dad had been settled into the side room they had for him. She was honest with us and explained that the ward did not normally accept end of life patients, particularly as poorly as my dad was, however, they were going to do everything they could on the ward to make his stay as comfortable as possible. Despite being put out of their comfort zone of caring for the ‘typical’ patient for that particular ward Cheryl and her colleague Becky Shutt made us all feel so welcome and reassured us that they would do everything they could for my dad.

“Within minutes of my dad being on the ward, they had been in touch with a doctor to get all of the medication required written up to keep my dad as comfortable as possible. They did not impose on our time with my dad at all but they made it very clear that we should not hesitate to call them should we need anything. They provided warm drinks and some biscuits for us too. More importantly, the care they provided to my dad was second to none. They gave him regular pain relief to keep him comfortable as he was in quite a lot of pain and they upheld his dignity by asking us to step outside of the room at regular intervals to ‘freshen’ dad up and reposition him. We cannot fault the care my dad received from nurses Cheryl, Becky and healthcare support worker Sherrie Bailey overnight.

“When the staff changeover took place in the morning, we were a little anxious that the level of care may not continue, knowing that wards become busier during the day. We could not have been more wrong. The day shift nurse, Sophie Sinclair, came in to introduce herself to dad and to us. Again, she made it perfectly clear that we could ask for anything we wanted and that she would do the best she could for my dad also. She prompted us all to have some breakfast, knowing that we had been with dad all night and would not be leaving him. Toast and warm drinks were provided, along with jugs of water and juice. Despite not feeling like wanting to eat, Sophie encouraged us to keep our strength up too. We felt that not only was my dad being looked after, but the whole family too.

“Sophie also got in touch with the palliative care nurse specialist to get anticipatory medication prepared for dad to maintain his comfort. In addition, she gave us the opportunity to provide some hands-on personal care for my dad, asking if we would like to give him a wash or freshen up. I am a nurse myself, my sister has experience as a carer and my wife is a physiotherapist. We appreciated that she respected this and gave us the chance to do something nice for our dad in his final hours, although I must point out it was not forced upon us. Sophie provided us with a trolley with towels, bowls for water, shaving foam and a razor, etc., which allowed my sister and I to give my dad one last shave.

“Unfortunately, from my own experience as a nurse I recognised a change in dad’s breathing pattern indicating a deterioration. We made Sophie aware and, whilst giving us space, she popped her head in regularly to see how dad was. Dad seemed to be a little agitated so we alerted Sophie and within minutes the anticipatory medications were being administered to keep dad comfortable. Later that night, surrounded by my mum, sister, wife and myself all holding his hands, my beautiful dad slipped peacefully away.

“The care did not end there and all staff made sure we were all ok. We were given time to be with dad and were not rushed in any way. We were given sandwiches and warm drinks to make sure we had all eaten and Sophie let us know that we could spend as much time with dad as we wanted and we could let her know when we were ready to discuss what happens next. When we did call her into the room, she showed such understanding of the situation and just gave us the information we needed at the time. Before we left, Sophie assured us that dad would be looked after and they would take good care of him for us. I wholeheartedly believed this to be true.

“In his final hours spent on ward 103 I didn’t have to be his nurse and was finally able to be his daughter again. I along with the rest of the family had every faith in the nurses and carers looking after dad. We are so grateful for the utmost care and compassion, respect and dignity, given to my dad and ourselves during those final hours. It made what was the worst time of our lives the nicest experience it could be for us all. We will never forget that.”