How Hospice gave our family hope and happiness at Christmas time

How Hospice gave our family hope and happiness at Christmas time

In January of 2016 Eileen (Saffy) Hartman noticed one day that her typing wasn’t as fast or as accurate as it usually was. Her right hand didn’t seem to be matching up with her left, and what she was typing didn’t make sense on the screen.

An appointment with her GP about a niggling concern soon resulted in an emergency admittance to the hospital to undergo rigorous scans and testing.

Saffy was diagnosed with Glioblastoma - an aggressive cancerous tumour that develops in the brain and can exhibit stroke-like symptoms. She was given three to four months to live.

The cancer quickly took over, debilitating her speech and leaving the right-side of her body paralysed. Her husband, Daniel (Danny) Hartman, to whom she had been married for 51 years, and her family, simply could not continue to provide Saffy with the care that she needed from home and so the decision was made to bring Saffy to the In-Patient Unit (IPU) in December of 2016.

“As a daughter, there were a lot of anxious feelings around having a parent needing hospice care. Especially around Christmas,” says Donna Gifford (née Hartman). “But Hospice gave us hope and happiness during this time.”

“The day we brought Mum in there were decorations up and carols playing. Mum’s laughter and enthusiasm soon won over the staff, and Dad felt right at home and would have happily just moved in!”

“It was a magic time because they could focus on each other and not have to worry about her health requirements that were being taken care of,” says Donna. “They had more time to just be, which was so important.”

But what Saffy really wanted was to be home on Christmas Day. “Having her at home was almost impossible, we knew that, and although she couldn’t talk, the doctors and nurses all knew that it was so important to her.”

It was with the help of many nurses, doctors, volunteers and staff, that Hospice Waikato could arrange for Saffy to be at home for Christmas.

Among various medical equipment needed to make it possible, Saffy needed a special bed to help her with mobility and constant professional care. “We appreciate there was a huge cost to having everything set up for her and the care she received while she was away from IPU.”

“Hospice worked miracles. The thought that went into everything was just phenomenal,” says Donna.

After Christmas Saffy returned to the In-Patient Unit. Her family could relax knowing she was where she needed to be.

Saffy’s determination is what kept her going for almost exactly a year after her diagnosis before she died in January 2017 at age 69.

“The nurturing environment at Hospice Waikato is just outstanding. It’s the little things that make the difference,” says Donna.

“The Hospice Waikato In-Patient Unit is an extension of home”

- Rachael Bish,
Hospice Waikato

How you can help
Imagine being told you are not well enough to spend Christmas Day at home with your family.

Fortunately for Saffy, with the support of her Hospice team she was able to spend Christmas Day at home with her loved ones, but for many of our patients the level of care and support they require

simply cannot be replicated at home.

At Hospice Waikato we endeavour to make the patients who are here with us on Christmas Day feel special and do our best to recognise family traditions.

Each month it costs Hospice Waikato $4000 just to provide meals for our IPU patients.

Please help us to create special memories for our patients and their families this Christmas by making a donation today.
Click here to make a donation.