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Hospice staff go extra mile to get brave Littlehampton Mum home for Christmas with her young boys, who have been fundraising in her honour.
Jeanette Baker, 45, from Littlehampton was sadly diagnosed with a brain tumour in March 2015. She is currently being cared for by St Barnabas House hospice and likes to spend as much time as she can with her family. Jeanette is married to husband Chris and has two young boys, Connor (8) and Bradley (10), who have recently been fundraising for the hospice to say thank you for the wonderful care their Mum has received. On both Christmas Day and Boxing Day hospice staff went the extra mile to transport Jeanette home to enable her to be with her family for Christmas.
John Hodges, Maintenance, Grounds and Housekeeping Manager, for St Barnabas House transported Jeanette safely from the In-Patient Unit (IPU) to her family home in Littlehampton for Christmas. He was accompanied over the two days by Nursing Assistants Ian Hassell, Susan Greco, Marion Nixon and Sandra Smith.
Pictured above (bottom left) Ian Hassell spent his last day after 14 years of service with St Barnabas House caring for Jeanette and other patients on the IPU.
Jeanette, also known as “Nettie”, first attended the St Barnabas House In-Patient Unit from mid-July to mid-Aug 2015. This enabled her family to have some much needed respite care, as at home Jeanette’s condition had deteriorated and she was no longer able to get upstairs on her own. She returned to the hospice in Sept 2015. On her return, Jeanette’s condition had deteriorated. She was semi-conscious and remained bed-ridden for almost 6 weeks. On October 14 a doctor told Jeanette it would be unrealistic to expect to walk again.
Jeanette was quietly determined to prove the doctor wrong, and with the support of the St Barnabas House physiotherapists, nurses and doctors, on Oct 21 she stood up again for the first time. Jeanette’s mother Doreen Harbour said: “The staff are so patient and supportive, and Jeanette was so determined, she is incredibly proud of herself for this amazing achievement. She has since progressed to moving around the ward with the help of the caring nurses and a Zimmer frame.
Jeanette feels that her illness has robbed her of her ability to make decisions concerning her family and the running of her household. The staff at St Barnabas go to great lengths to enable patients to retain a sense of autonomy and independence. This has helped Jeanette enormously.”
Jeanette has enjoyed attending the Day Hospice since Nov 2015, after her consultant suggested she should “go and have fun and enjoy herself”. Jeanette said: “I felt a bit shy at first, but just because I didn’t know what to expect. I have had so much fun at the Day Hospice. I enjoy the companionship and camaraderie, and I’ve made some lovely new friends. I have loved the arts and crafts activities. We made Christmas decorations to sell at the Day Hospice Christmas market, and the artist in residence, Stevan, has helped me explore photography which I have also really taken to. For Christmas my boys made me a photo-montage gift frame using pictures I had taken of the beautiful plants and reflections in the St Barnabas gardens.”
The Chaplain Stephen Gurr has been particularly supportive. Jeanette loves to attend the Friday afternoon service, and when she has been unable to get up, Stephen has arranged for her bed to be wheeled across the ward to the chapel. Stephen and his team of volunteers often pop in to Jeanette’s room to see how she is getting on and chat with her family members if they are there.
Other experiences Jeanette has fond memories of include relaxing hand massages, having her nails done, and listening to the Farlington school choir at the Day Hospice. On Dec 23, staff visited Jeanette’s room and other patients on the IPU to sing Christmas carols to them. Jeanette and her family have also loved being able to enjoy the beautiful gardens and pond area, which are maintained by our volunteers.
Jeanette’s mother Doreen said: “St Barnabas House has been a very supportive and positive place for the boys to visit their Mum. It doesn’t feel like an oppressive and sad nursing home. The staff have really gone the extra mile to make the quality of Jeanette’s life as fantastic as possible. The care she receives is wonderful.
We are so grateful to the team who pulled together to enable Jeanette to get home for Christmas, which was what she and her family wanted so much. We would like thank John Hodges who gave up a lot of his own time on Christmas and Boxing Day to drive Jeanette to and from the hospice in the mini-bus.”
Jeanette’s husband Chris Baker said: “It has been a great relief for our family to have access to all the services we have needed under one roof, and answers to any questions we have had. We haven’t had to deal with any stressful to-ing and fro-ing at this difficult time.
The facilities at the hospice are second-to-none. Everything has been considered to improve patients’ quality of life, from electric beds, hoists and Jacuzzi baths, which Jeanette really enjoys. Her room is spacious and airy with French windows opening onto a private garden. The food is amazing and presented with such thought. The care team are always on hand to answer our questions with patience and compassion.
As a family we are truly indebted to St Barnabas House and their dedicated staff.”