You never imagine your loved one will need the care of Dougie Mac; but when our dad, Mick Harrison, was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour in July 2019, they were there for us from the very beginning to the end of our journey.
I first thought the hospice was a very sad place. My grandma passed away in the hospice in 1992 and I suppose I had always associated it with loss. However, when I visited the hospice for the first time as an adult, I couldn’t believe what a happy and bright place it was. It didn’t feel sad but peaceful and comforting. From the friendliness of the volunteers greeting us in reception to the fundraisers doing cake sales; everything felt so much warmer than I had imagined.
The first contact we had from the hospice was a few days after my dad’s diagnosis when they called to speak to my mum. I answered the phone and after taking a few details, the nurse asked, ‘And how are you doing?’ This was a question no professional had asked any of us before and from that moment I was reassured that the support the hospice gave was not just for the patient but for the whole family.
Dougie Mac first offered dad physiotherapy which he really enjoyed as he loved going to the gym to keep fit. It gave him a sense of pride and purpose and extended his mobility. The physio sessions also gave my mum much needed respite which she often spent chatting to the other Dougie Mac staff who were all brilliant listeners or relaxing with a bite to eat in the dining room.
When dad was admitted in February 2020, the care he received was astounding. If he wanted a bath at midnight, he could have one. If he wanted sandwiches at 2am, it was no problem. One nurse even went out and bought him oatcakes on a Sunday morning just because he fancied some.
Dad passed away five days after his 59th birthday on 2nd April 2020. By taking away the burden of care, they gave us the precious time together that we so desperately wanted and needed. Dougie Mac gave my dad dignity, comfort and peace in his final weeks; something we will always be indebted to the hospice for.