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How Phyllis Tuckwell Helped Maggie Glynn

6 minute read
How Phyllis Tuckwell Helped Maggie Glynn

Published at 10:25am 22nd May 2019.

When Maggie McGlynn was referred to Phyllis Tuckwell, she told her family that she wanted to die at home, rather than at the Hospice. Her sister Chris and daughter Zoe were reluctant though.

“I didn’t want Mum to die at home,” says Zoe. “I would have preferred her to have gone to the Hospice because she’d have had 24/7 care there. At home I was concerned that if she’d been in pain, there was nothing we could do. We’d have had to contact somebody, and I was thinking ‘how long will it take for someone to get here, is she going to be suffering for hours?’, but actually it didn’t turn out like that at all. It was the best decision that she and we made.”

To join in with our Phyllis Tuckwell 40th Anniversary Radiothon on May 24th 2019 - all information is here.

Maggie McGlynn - Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice
It was Maggie's last wish to die at home

Respecting Maggie’s last wish, and despite their worries, her family asked if she could be cared for by Phyllis Tuckwell’s Hospice Care at Home (HCAH) team, who visit patients at home during their last weeks of life. They provide compassionate care and support, not only for patients but for their families and carers too. The team visited Maggie daily during the last week of her life, and offered Chris and Zoe advice and reassurance in person and over the phone. The nurse who had the most contact with them was Jessie.

“The person who saved me from going crazy was Jessie,” smiles Zoe. “I would never have got through it without her. I was on the edge, trying to look after my two children as well as my mum. I hadn’t actually met Jessie at first; I spoke to her on the phone a lot though. She would visit Mum and then she would ring me. I would be quite stressed out, not fully understanding what was going to happen next, and she would talk me through it. She was so calm and caring.”

“For me it was the worry of Maggie being at home and not having enough painkillers, or enough support,” says Chris. “But as soon as I met the team all of my worries went away. The nurses dealt with Maggie’s illness, but kept us at ease at the same time. They were incredible - kind, respectful, nothing was too much trouble.”

As Maggie’s condition deteriorated, the nurses visited more frequently, and one evening Jessie suggested that one of the nursing team come to sit with Maggie overnight, so the family could get some sleep. This service is sometimes offered when a patient is very ill, usually in the last days of life.

“In my heart that was what I really wanted,” says Zoe, “but we were worried that other people might need that service more than we did, so we turned her down. I think Jessie could tell in my voice that I was terrified, so she kept in contact with me all evening. It was my saving grace, just to be able to speak to her. I felt that she was actually in the flat with me. She explained how things could go, and reassured me that I could phone Phyllis Tuckwell for advice at any time of day or night.”

“During that last week, Bryony, one of the Phyllis Tuckwell chaplains, visited too,” says Chris. “She and Maggie had some time alone, and Maggie looked really peaceful after she left. It was important to Maggie to make her peace before she died.”

Maggie McGlynn - Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice
Phyllis Tuckwell’s Hospice Care at Home team visited Maggie daily during the last week of her life

“The night before Mum died, it snowed,” says Zoe. “Jessie phoned to see how I was doing. I told her I thought we were coming to the end. I was in bits, and Jessie asked again if we would like someone to sit with Mum overnight. This time I said yes. Because the weather was drawing in, we were concerned that a nurse may not be able to reach us if they needed to. We thought it was safer for Mum to have somebody here.”

Julie, a Health Care Assistant in the HCAH team, came over to Maggie’s house to sit with her through the night.

“I couldn’t sleep,” says Zoe, “so I got up and sat with Julie. Mum was laying there and I was listening to her breathing. I remember that morning so vividly. I saw Julie out at ten past seven and then sat with Mum. At 29 minutes past seven I went to phone my husband. I wasn’t on the phone for even a minute, but when I walked back in she’d gone. It was so quick, and it was peaceful. I didn’t hear anything - and I was literally in the next room. She had always said to me ‘you will not be in the room when I take my last breath’, and I had said ‘well there’s nothing you can do about it, because I’m going to be with you every step of the way’, but for that one minute that I was out of the room she decided to let go. I gave her a big kiss and said ‘you cheeky minx, you got what you wanted’.”

Zoe phoned Jessie, and Jessie came over to the house.

“There was something incredibly calming about her,” says Chris. “She was so respectful. She told us she needed to wash Maggie. I wanted to help, and she had no problem with that. Maggie was my big sister and she was always there for me, so it was lovely to be able to do one last thing for her.”

Zoe nods. “It was her dying wish to stay at home and it was a beautiful ending. It was absolutely perfect.”

Since Maggie’s death, the team at Phyllis Tuckwell have contacted Chris and Zoe to make sure that they are coping, and to offer them and the rest of the family bereavement support.

“The thing that I found extremely heart-warming,” Zoe says, “was that once Mum had died, the nurses were still ringing up to see how we were. It wasn’t just that Mum had gone and ok we’ll pack up and we won’t see you again. When they phoned after she had died, that was the most important phone call I received from them. It was heart-warming, they really meant what they said.”

To join in with our Phyllis Tuckwell 40th Anniversary Radiothon on May 24th 2019 - all information is here.