St Catherine’s helped Stephen achieve his dream of spending his final days on the Isle of Wight
A Chorley woman has spoken of her gratitude after St Catherine’s Hospice helped her beloved brother to achieve his dream of spending his final days in the place he loved the most – the Isle of Wight.
Stephen Ryan wished to return to the island where he spent many happy years, and the Lostock Hall charity worked relentlessly to make it happen for him.
He had moved to Astley Village in December 2019 live with his sister Betty Ryan, as he suffered with painful arthritis and other health issues. However after many stays in hospital, Stephen realised he wanted to go back to the Isle of Wight and receive specialist care there surrounded by friends and the ocean.
After he spent a short period of time in St Catherine’s Hospice in September last year, the charity’s dedicated Support Team became determined to help Stephen achieve what was important to him.
Betty explained: “Before he went into St Catherine’s, Stephen was so agitated; he was terrified and worried about what would happen next. He was in and out of hospital, as well as being cared for at home by the district nurses, and it was one of the nurses who suggested he be referred to St Catherine’s to help him be more comfortable and get his pain under control.
“The staff at the hospice were superb. They really spent time talking to Stephen and getting to know him, and he spoke to them about his wishes to spend his final days on the Isle of Wight. They supported me too, asking how I was doing and I was just glad that Stephen seemed happier. They really were fantastic; they’re angels.”
Stephen, who loved skiing and fishing, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when he was in his 40s. After suffering a heart attack and his lung collapsed, he moved from Sheffield to the Isle of Wight where his military family had grown up, and where his dad and brother still lived.
“Stephen was in the Royal Engineers when he was younger, and there was an amazing support system for ex-service personnel on the island,” Betty said. “He also joined a sea fishing club and made lots of friends. But when he was diagnosed with lung disease and pulmonary arterial hypertension associated with the arthritis, we suggested he move in with me so I could help him.
“When he was in St Catherine’s, it was such a relief to him because every single person who spoke to him knew all of his medical history; they all knew his requirements and were fully aware of what he needed at that time.
“He just instantly relaxed. He said he felt so safe and comfortable as soon as he arrived there. It was the small details too like making sure his food was prepared exactly as he liked it. They took those extra steps and it made all the difference.”
The hospice’s Support Team worked with other organisations to facilitate the move, advising and helping with practical considerations such as financial benefit entitlements, sorting out paperwork and documents, sourcing a nursing home, and arranging medical equipment and transport.
They also provided emotional support to reduce Stephen’s and Betty’s concerns, and the clinical team ensured that all of the relevant medical information was shared with the nursing home, Stephen’s new GP and other appropriate teams.
Stephen died on January 31, aged 63. Betty said: “When he arrived back on the Isle of Wight he said he felt like he was finally home again. Every day is a blessing and St Catherine’s made his final days really special and peaceful for him. I can’t thank them enough.”
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