Ethne and Tad's story

“You knew that when a Rennie Grove nurse was coming you were getting somebody who really knew what they were doing. You felt a great sense of relief that they were on their way and you knew that when they came they would be able to cope marvellously.”

Tad’s heart condition developed in 2016 and he was determined to get on with life even during the times when his illness made him very unwell. Ethne, Tad’s wife, explains how Rennie Grove’s nurses helped Tad and his family as Tad’s health deteriorated.

“In December 2018 Tad became very ill. He had been diagnosed with Angina a couple of years before and more recently we’d been told that his heart was failing. He was a determined man and despite periods of feeling very unwell he usually stabilised and we got on with life.

“During this time our GP – who was absolutely fantastic throughout Tad’s illness – suggested that we talk to Rennie Grove. I have to confess that other than knowing that the charity had a shop nearby, I really had no idea what they did.

“A couple of weeks later Katherine, who is a nurse from Rennie Grove, came to visit. We sat and chatted so she could get to know more about us and explain about the care Rennie Grove provides. At that point Tad was feeling better again so we left things as they were for the time being.

“Tad’s illness was very up and down. He had a number of episodes where he became unwell, was admitted to hospital, recovered then came home. Following a particularly bad episode in December 2018 it was pretty clear to the whole family that this would be his last Christmas so we pulled out all the stops and had a great family celebration at home.

Tad

“In March 2019 he had to be rushed into hospital where he stayed for two weeks. It was awful and he hated it. He had a renal and lung infection which the hospital staff cured but generally his health became much worse while he was in hospital in terms of his mobility and strength.

“When he came home from hospital Tad’s GP came to visit him and they talked about what to do if he became ill again. He was quite definite that he did not want to go back into hospital – “definitely not!”

“It was at this point that Rennie Grove got fully involved. I thought the nurses were wonderful. They were kind, reassuring, calm and competent. You knew that when a Rennie Grove nurse was coming you were getting somebody who really knew what they were doing. You felt a great sense of relief that they were on their way and you knew that when they came they would be able to cope marvellously.

“Knowing they are there day and night is incredibly reassuring. I had to call them on a Saturday when Tad became very agitated. The nurse gave him medication that enabled him to rest peacefully. My son was with me at the time and she explained very gently that she was concerned about Tad’s breathing and that perhaps he may not last much longer. She sat calmly and quietly with Tad for the rest of the afternoon. It was only when she was happy that his breathing had improved that she left.

“On another occasion I had to call the night team and a nurse came out to help me with Tad. I had support from other services overnight and our children stayed over to help too –things always feel worse at night.

“The nurses were so unobtrusive. We never felt they were taking over. They were frequently in our home, caring for Tad or sitting with him but they left such a light footprint in terms of the impact they had on our domestic arrangements.

“Rennie Grove’s nurses cared for Tad at home for three weeks before he died. Our sons and daughters were frequent visitors – often staying overnight - and we felt very lucky that he was able to spend time with all the family while he was at home.

“Tad’s last day was a Wednesday. By this time the nurses had set up two syringe drivers to ensure that he wasn’t in any pain. He was resting peacefully. Marek, Tad’s son, came over and was working on his laptop from our home (which all our children did) so they could spend time with us.

“Katherine from Rennie Grove was due to visit so my daughter and decided to pop out for a coffee just to get out of the house for a short while. We told Tad where we were going and we that we wouldn’t be long and that Marek was there. We got back and Katherine arrived. A little later she came to find me and told me that Tad had gone. I knew he was dying but the reality was such a shock. Katherine did what needed to be done, discretely and calmly and the family came so we could all be together.

“Rennie Grove has stayed in touch and have invited me to a couple of remembrance events. The nurses also explained that there are services available to support families that have been bereaved. As I am starting to get used to life without Tad, it is good to know that they are available at any stage if I should need them.

“The whole family have been so impressed by the Rennie Grove nurses and the care and support they provided to Tad and all of us. They are experts that have time to care and give their patients the attention they need.”