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Doncaster woman praises ‘angels’

A ‘first-of-its-kind’ team of care workers, who helped look after a Doncaster man through the last days of his life, have been described as ‘angels’ by his widow.

Pauline Stevenson’s husband Bill was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer three years ago, and the disease became more aggressive about 12 months ago, resulting in his death, aged 69, last November.

Bill, who spent 34 years as a policeman, wanted to die at his home at Cusworth but caring for him towards the end was becoming increasingly difficult for Pauline, who had a triple heart by-pass a few years ago and was also suffering from health problems at the time. Family members were helping, but as Bill deteriorated it became clear they needed extra support.

Health staff referred Pauline to Woodfield 24, a recently launched not-for-profit care service which is funded by the NHS and run by Flourish Enterprises,  a ‘community interest’ business, that is part of the Balby-based Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust.

Acting on referrals, team members go into people’s homes – often at very short notice – to provide ‘social care’, helping out with everyday household chores and providing personal care to those who are nearing the end of their life. The aim of the service is to support people to die at home if that’s their wish.

Pauline, 68, an assessment officer with Doncaster Council, said: “Bill initially refused any outside care as he was a very proud man and didn’t want anyone else looking after him. But as soon as he met the Woodfield 24 staff he changed. They were so professional, more than carers, and he felt comfortable with them.

“They came up to three times a day to look after him in the three weeks leading up to his death, helping with daily activities and working with the community nurses. He was in bed all the time, but looked forward to their visits and they took a massive weight off my shoulders, enabling me to spend quality time with him.

“They were immaculately dressed and professional all the time and really caring people – true angels.  I can’t thank them enough for what they did for Bill through what was a very difficult time for all of us.”

Jackie Pederson, Deputy Chief Officer at NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which funds Woodfield 24, said: “We believe this is a service that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country, so Doncaster is leading the way in developing new ways of providing all important end of life care for local people.

“We want people who are terminally ill to have a good death, and that includes making informed, active decisions about their end of life care and where they want to die.

“Around 3,000 Doncaster people die each year and currently around half of those deaths take place in hospital. But people have told us that if they become terminally ill they want to die at home and, since the service was launched last summer, over 100 Doncaster people have been able to do so thanks to the care of Woodfield 24 staff. This number will grow as the team develops”.

Sharon Schofield, Director of Flourish Enterprises which runs Woodfield 24, said: “It is great not only for the service but also for our staff to receive such excellent feedback.

“We have listened to what residents have told us and worked to deliver a service to meet their needs.  It is a privilege to support residents at a time when they most need our support and we look forward to working with the CCG to continue delivering this extremely important service.”

*       You can hear Pauline Stevenson speaking about Woodfield 24 and the care Bill received  in a  video produced by NHS Doncaster CCG at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5fBQdjc1xc