Help give Rennie Grove patients the most precious gift of all – Christmas at home with family

PUBLISHED: 15:00 12 November 2017

Betty in her Christmas finery with her Rennie Grove nurse Suzanne Fitzpatrick.

Betty in her Christmas finery with her Rennie Grove nurse Suzanne Fitzpatrick.

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Nurses from Rennie Grove Hospice Care are asking for help that will enable them to give as many patients as possible – children and adults –the most precious gift of all, to stay at home with their families this Christmas.

Ella with her brothers Aydan (right) and Charlie (left).Ella with her brothers Aydan (right) and Charlie (left).

Andrea Lambert, head of children’s services at Rennie Grove explained: “Our nurses’ care is vital at all times of the year and at Christmas it becomes even more so. Christmas is a time for friends and families to be together and our nurses try hard to give our patients the chance to enjoy Christmas at home – perhaps for the last time.

Rennie Grove nurses cared for Betty last year. Betty’s daughter Sharon said: “My mother Betty was truly larger than life. She loved clothes and bright colours; it mattered to her how she dressed. She was outgoing and loved music helping with local choirs and music groups. Then in November last year she had a massive heart attack. She was very frustrated not being able to get out of bed and when I became aware that she was deteriorating and that I needed some help caring for her Rennie Groves nurses stepped in.

“The nurses were so wonderful; I could phone them any time of the day and they’d come. All the nurses loved her and she loved them, particularly Suzanne with whom she formed a special bond.

“Christmas is a very important time for our family and Mum desperately wanted to be with us all to celebrate it but I genuinely didn’t think she would be. But she rallied and I’ll never forget her on Christmas Day in her bed with her nails done, her lippy on and wearing an amazing Christmas jumper.

Ella with her family: mum Natalie, dad Jack and brothers Aydan and Charlie.Ella with her family: mum Natalie, dad Jack and brothers Aydan and Charlie.

“Mum died at home on January 20. Without support it would have been incredibly hard but the Rennie Grove Nurses made a huge difference in just a short time; they never compromised her dignity no matter what they had to do.”

Christmas is a time for children and Rennie Grove’s nurses will be doing all they can to support the children in their care so that they can have the wonderful time they deserve. For some of these children and their families this could be their last Christmas together.

Ella, who will be 17 months in December, has spinal muscular atrophy type 1. Her mum, Natalie explained: “Around Christmas last year we knew that something wasn’t right; she wasn’t developing as she should be. There’s a specific protein which allows you spinal cord to read messages sent from the brain and pass them onto the muscles but Ella doesn’t have this protein. These messages never get to Ella’s muscles and so they don’t get used and waste away. She’ll never be able to crawl, roll over or talk; she will lose the ability to swallow and eventually to breathe.

“I’ll never forget arriving home from the intensive care unit and Terry – one of the Rennie Grove nurses - was there. He’s always there now to make sure Ella is cared for properly and this means that we can do things as a family with our son Aydan. Terry and the team are part of our family life, they’re our safety net.

“Our little girl is amazing. She smiles all day every day and so many things we were told she would never be able to do she does. She just keeps going. One vital Christmas wish for all of us is that Ella will still be here. She loved all the lights and the colours on the tree last year and we’ll try to get Father Christmas to come to the house this year. I know the nurses will be there too doing everything they can to make Ella happy and comfortable and that we can all be together at home for Christmas.”

Nursing care for patients like Betty and Ella has never been needed more than it is now, so please help your local Rennie Grove Hospice Care nurses to give compassionate, dedicated care to children and adults in your community this Christmas.

You can make a donation to pay for some nursing time in a patient’s home over Christmas and New Year. Rennie Grove’s Christmas appeal can be viewed on the website www.renniegrove.org/xmasgift or you are welcome to call them on 01442 890222 if you’d prefer to donate over the phone.

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