Thelma and Mervyn’s Story: “I can’t imagine what it would have been like without Weldmar at Home”
5th May 2022< BACK TO NEWS
Thelma Green and Mervyn Bown enjoyed beekeeping together. It was something Mervyn was already doing when the pair first met in November 2007, when a friend of Thelma’s asked if she would like to go to a local concert organised by the local beekeeping community.
This concert was just four months after Thelma’s husband had passed away at Weldmar Hospicecare’s Inpatient Unit in Dorchester and she remembers the wonderful care they both received during that difficult time, being able to stay with him throughout his short stay. They had been together for 46 years – since they were teenagers – and Thelma couldn’t imagine ever being with anybody else. But during a second beekeeping concert that Christmas, she discovered that Mervyn had lost his wife just four days before her own husband had died.
“It seemed as though Mervyn and I meeting was meant to be,” Thelma told us. After accepting an invitation to go out for coffee she said she would like to see his bees, although this didn’t quite go to plan! Several stings later, and a painful introduction to the hobby, she and Mervyn became close.
In 2020, Mervyn underwent an operation at Poole Hospital following a cancer diagnosis, but sadly, the following Easter he became very poorly and he was referred to Weldmar Hospicecare. A Weldmar Community Nurse came to see him at home, and they agreed on a path of medication for the difficult times ahead.
Mervyn’s condition worsened again in May, and although help was also on hand from Mervyn’s children and their families every day, things were getting extremely difficult for Thelma. “Mervyn had a bed downstairs, and I had a mattress on the floor next to him. I was caring for him night and day, and I was really tired. I needed help.” Although told that funding had been secured for carers to visit them at home, getting their package of care in place had proved very difficult, so when the Weldmar at Home service began, their Weldmar Community Nurse arranged for a visit, and it was the moment things were transformed for Thelma.
She says, “We had a visit from two carers, and they came in, assessed our needs, and didn’t hang about. They got straight on with the job. They organised more suitable sheets for his bed, which would allow us to move Mervyn more easily and prevent bed sores. They told me they were both new to Weldmar as it was a brand new service, but you would never know as they were so well trained.”
Thelma says that Mervyn was a private person, and didn’t want to return to hospital or the hospice, instead wanting to stay at home. “He was a little dubious of having carers at first, but he knew that I was at the end of my tether, and they started him with a little wash. Within a couple of days, he was completely comfortable with them. They were so nice!”
One thing Thelma was particularly struck by was how bespoke the Weldmar at Home service was to their needs. “One of the carers identified that Mervyn needed night care, and although they weren’t doing night shifts at that time because the service had just started, she made the necessary arrangements to be there for two nights during Mervyn’s last week.
“I was able to go upstairs and have a good night’s sleep, knowing that there was a good carer who I could trust, downstairs with Mervyn. The care was tailored to completely what we needed. The weight was lifted from my mind, and it was help, which they gave with kindness, and were quietly spoken – just what Mervyn wanted.”
Since Mervyn passed away, Thelma has continued to use the services of Weldmar Hospicecare. She is hoping to visit a coffee morning soon, organised by the Family Support Services team, and accepted an invitation to have complementary therapy, including massage and Reiki. As a carer for Mervyn, Thelma was supported by Chloe from Weldmar’s specialist palliative care social work team, who still checks in with her from time to time, for a coffee or a walk, and a chat.