‘I think it’s the little things that make being a Hospice Companion so special’

Daring Doris Long MBE, a world record holder after abseiling down the Spinnaker Tower at the age of 101 in 2015 to raise money for the Rowans, with Hospice Companion Ruth Davies
Daring Doris Long MBE, a world record holder after abseiling down the Spinnaker Tower at the age of 101 in 2015 to raise money for the Rowans, with Hospice Companion Ruth Davies
Promoted by Rowans Hospice

When ‘Daring’ Doris Long MBE, aged 104, went home after being in the Rowans for rehabilitation care, Hospice Companion co-ordinator Kate White arranged for Ruth Davies, a Hospice Companion for more than six years, to pop in to see Doris in her own home. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Doris Long: ‘I feel so much better now. They really looked after me in the hospice. It is lovely now Ruth pops in to see me, she has done me a lot of good.

She is ever so lovely, taking me out and about in the wheelchair. She wraps me up nice and warm, making sure I am comfortable and then off we go.

I enjoy our different outings. For ages I wanted to see the seat I had paid for, to check what condition it was in. It is placed on a much-loved spot along a favourite walk, which included passing by the nature reserve before arriving at this open space.

It is here my seat sits proudly on a raised bank, where you can rest and enjoy the most wonderful view of the whole bay. I used to meet up with other dog walkers and have a good chat as we exercised our dogs there.

What was lovely was when Ruth and I got there, there was a lady and her dog sitting on it, which was just what I wanted.

Last week’s trip was absolutely wonderful, Ruth took me to where all the yachts are on the island. I didn’t even know the place even existed. It is worth seeing, all the different types and styles of houses they had been built was an interest in itself, without even looking at all the yachts.

I really did enjoy it and would recommend people make a point of going there. When we come back we have a nice cup of tea together. And then when Ruth leaves, I like to think over my thoughts of where I have been and what I have seen.’

Ruth Davies: ‘I lost my husband when I was 32, he didn’t make it to Rowans Hospice. I am not quite sure where I was when I picked up Reaching Out, the hospice magazine, but I remember reading the article asking for volunteers, even for just an hour a week. I thought I can do that, so volunteered, got the role and I haven’t looked back.

Being a Companion can involve putting somebody’s washing out, cooking lunch, dinner, cleaning, ironing or simply sitting. But it is the chatting, the companionship, which is the major part of our role.

I have been coming to see Doris now for six weeks. She is great company and we love a good old-fashioned chat. On my first few visit Doris didn’t feel strong enough to go out, but since then we have had some lovely trips out.

We picked the right day to go to the marina, the weather was just perfect, bright blue skies giving us stunning panoramic views stretching from Portsdown Hill to Goodwood.

 It is only a fraction of my time I give each week, yet I am rewarded by Doris’ beaming smile when I arrive. At the moment I have a very poorly dog and Doris ran an animal rescue centre for years, so I have really valued her advice.

It is so rewarding seeing the smile on someone’s face who is so pleased to see you, like Doris. It is not a just the patient’s smile, but also the patient’s partner, as my visit can give them maybe the only opportunity that week to leave the house.

I didn’t expect I would be so involved. I thought I would go in and do the cleaning and that would be it. However people mostly want someone to talk to, that companionship.

Although I do clearly remember one lady who absolutely loved it when I came to clean her floor, as she would get upset watching it get dirty, knowing she was not able to clean it. So when I came in she would breathe an audible sigh of relief, her floor would be clean again!

It is those little things which makes the role special. Obviously no-one really wants to clean anyone else’s floor in their spare time, but because it meant so much to her it also meant a lot to me.