Malcolm and Rita Mellor

It’s nice when Alice comes, and I can have a natter. We can have a sit and a brew. Alice helps me in the home as well. The service is invaluable.

Alice, a Hospice at Home Support Worker, has been visiting Malcolm and Rita for over a year now, after being referred to Ashgate Hospicecare by their GP. Rita has been living with Multiple Sclerosis, MS, for 25 years and also has dementia. Sometimes, Malcolm can find it difficult to care for her on his own.

Malcolm said, “Most of the time I’m living in a silent world. Rita never says a word and stresses quite a lot and I need to calm her down.”

Having Alice visit every Friday for just three hours is a real help for both Malcolm and Rita. Malcolm added, “It’s nice when Alice comes, and I can have a natter. We can have a sit and a brew. Alice helps me in the home as well. The service is invaluable.

“Alice has been coming for over a year and so we’ve built up a relationship. Rita is also comfortable with Alice – she is sometimes upset by new faces, but as we see Alice regularly, she’s fine.”

Malcolm feels that not many people know the extent of support Ashgate Hospicecare offers to patients and their families in their own homes.

“I don’t know how many people actually realise what you do outside of the hospice. I didn’t know myself until I got involved with it. It’s wonderful.”

“Inside the hospice is really good – Rita went to the Day Hospice for 18 visits; that was lovely. She really enjoyed it, the staff were brilliant up there. It gave me a 6 hour break – that’s like winning the lottery for a carer. It might not sound a lot but that 6 hour break is marvellous. It makes you feel so good and for two/three days before it, you’re looking forward. It’s so important, that mental space.”

Ashgate have also helped adapt the couple’s home to meet Rita’s needs. Rita is very unsteady on her feet and needs extra help moving, as a result of her MS. Malcolm said, “Ashgate have helped me to get the wheelchair and the ramp for the home.” These pieces of equipment are invaluable for Malcolm as he moves Rita around the home, given he too suffers with a bad back.

Malcolm’s story is an insight into the life of a carer and how just a few hours a week from an Ashgate Hospicecare nurse can help him cope with his wife’s illnesses.