Margaret Powell Fosker from Gosport shares how she became involved with the Rowans and her gratitude for the care her husband Keith received
Keith was diagnosed with Multi System Atrophy (MSA) in 2010/2011, after being mis-diagnosed a couple of times – which is not unusual due to its rareness.
Gradually the patient is robbed of the ability to walk, write, swallow or move. It is closely related to Parkinson’s in some areas.
It was always my husband’s wish to remain at home and not go into a nursing home and I was blessed with having the strength to look after him at home. As my husband was 6ft 7in and 18 stone, he was a bit heavy for my 5ft 4in body, but I managed without harming him or me.
As the illness progressed, looking after him became a 24-hour job and I tried to access Continuing Care on more than one occasion without success.
My then doctor was growing concerned about me and she felt the care I was trying to access was rightfully due to my husband. I did try a few nursing homes so I could have a week or two off each year, but without exception their skill set proved to be inadequate to cope with this rare illness.
At this point my doctor approached the Rowans to see if it would be possible for the hospice to help me. The doctor in charge at the time, a lady, came to my home and confirmed Continuing Care was my husband’s right. She said the Rowans would take him in and indeed keep him there until it was successful in obtaining that care, adding that it would also give me respite.
I produced a file about my husband’s condition and the MSA nurse in London sent down a booklet to help in his care. She would also be on call if the Rowans had problems - this was a wonderful liaison exercise.
To cut a long story short, Rowans did obtain Continuing Care for my husband and she also told me we were now ‘Rowans people’.
Although I never asked for it, our Rowans social worker would telephone to say it’s time we had respite and would arrange for Keith to visit the hospice.
I was never concerned when he was there. Everyone involved with his care spoke to me at length about his moods, ability to eat etc. and a doctor always spoke to me at length about his needs. Here was the care that took away my anxiety and resulted in me having respite.
The first time I kept turning up to feed him and one of the sisters chased me out, saying to go home and rest as they could handle it.
Keith died where he wanted to die, at home in August 2015, and the hospice was truly instrumental in giving me the ability to continue to care for him. One could not put a price on the quality of care given by the devoted and always smiling staff.
We hope you feel inspired to show your support for the hospice’s Silver Jubilee Appeal and take on the challenge to ‘pledge to do one thing’. Visit www.silverjubilee.rowanshospice.co.uk