Thank you to William J Gallagher for sharing the following piece with us. 

“My career was spent supporting disabled people, most recently working in a rehabilitation centre run by the charity Leonard Cheshire in Battersea.

When I got to the stage where not much more could be done to treat my chronic lung disease, my Consultant at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital referred me to Trinity to oversee my care package.

At Trinity, I was assessed very holistically by a Palliative Care Consultant. Remaining in work was very important to me and I was scared stiff of losing my job, my independence and control in my life. I have always been independent, but I had reached the point where I couldn’t do certain things and was finding it stressful. They prescribed me medication to help manage my anxiety and referred me to Trinity’s Physiotherapist, Welfare Benefits Advisor, Spiritual Care team, a Counsellor and a Clinical Nurse Specialist.

In the weeks that followed, they all called me, explaining how they could support me and asking what I needed. I was not at all ready to throw in the towel with work, and with Trinity’s support, I stayed in work for a further year.

"I find it extraordinary that the support I was offered made it possible for me to continue to support disabled and dying people myself."

When Covid hit, I had to start shielding, which was daunting. Retiring had also caused me huge anxiety. I felt as if I had gone from giving support at work to needing it myself. For someone living on their own, with chronic lung disease, breathing can quickly become a big problem. You can become very fearful that there is nobody to reach out to. But I had the most wonderful service from the team and Trinity made it easy to reach out for support.

"Before the pandemic struck, I had gone through eight admissions to hospital within six months but, thanks to the support I received from Trinity, I have now not had an admission in over a year."

Once I was shielding, I was really struggling with depression and was supported by a Trinity Counsellor and Psychiatrist. Then my younger sister, who was my greatest friend, died suddenly just before Christmas. Had it not been for Trinity’s support with counselling, I don’t know where I would be today. It felt like whatever came my way, whatever mountains I had to climb alongside my condition, Trinity was there for me. I had to arrange my sister’s funeral and send her back home to Ireland. Not being able to see my other siblings or go to my sister’s funeral was so hard but I would have been totally lost without the support I received from Trinity.

What palliative care really means

Life is short and the time comes in all our lives where we need that extra help. Palliative care is the most extraordinary way of receiving it and we must never be afraid of those words, “palliative care”.

"Palliative care is all about life, living a fulfilled life, whatever it is you want to do - let’s climb that mountain, let’s take that step, let’s make plans, let’s be bold. It’s not a case of sitting back and giving up. It’s about grabbing life with both hands and the support I have received from Trinity has enabled me to do that."

There is a myth that hospices step in to support someone when they die but really, they are there to support you to live a fulfilled life until the point where you can’t live that life anymore. And when that time comes, another layer of support kicks in, and then another and another. You have that great security of knowing there is always someone there to support you to continue to have a fulfilled life or to perhaps have an end of life that’s dignified and hopefully pain-free.

Many years ago, when I first came to London, I worked in a hospice myself. I would tell people what I did, and they would assume it was difficult and depressing when really it was a place where people have a fulfilled life.

If you are asked if you’d like to be referred, jump at it. Trinity looks at every aspect of who you are – your income, faith, health, psychological state. They offer you everything that they have, to help you have a more fulfilled life. They’re communicating with me and supporting me in a way that meets my individual needs. They consider my abilities and inabilities, what my current situation is and are sensitive to the fact that I am going through a massive transition in my life.

The last year has been full of awful challenges for us all but I am aware that I can always call Trinity for support and I have always received it. In the evenings, or at weekends, when other services are not available, there is always someone there to take my call, and that has given me a tremendous sense of security. I know that if I need medication, I can call up today and have medication tomorrow. I don’t have to wait for a month or six weeks to speak to someone.

I don’t know how they have offered me such a personal service when the funding they receive has been challenged so much over the past year. Despite the fact of all these challenges, the patient is never compromised in any way.”

Find out more about support at home

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