LETTER: Don’t deny dying patients this last pleasure

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First and foremost may we take this opportunity to thank all staff and volunteers who all play a vital role within the John Eastwood Hospice.

The care given to all patients is of the highest calibre and everyone is treated with the utmost respect and dignity in their end of life care.

We only have one criticism/concern of the service provided, and that is with the lack of provision of a smoking area for the terminally ill who are ending their lives at the Hospice.

All of the patients have had to give up so much before entering the Hospice to live out their final days.

They have been stripped bare of a normal home life .It is with this in mind that we would like to draw to your attention to the small act of being able to ‘go out for a smoke’, which can sometimes be the only thing left that they have control over, and very often is the sole purpose of leaving their bed. We know through first hand experience that this is the only thing that motivates our relative to get out of bed, get into a wheelchair and go outside.

Although it is with considerable effort to achieve this, if it were not for the end result of being able to have a cigarette, he would not contemplate leaving the confines of his bed.

He is simply laying there waiting for the blessed relief of death and nothing any of us can do can coax him to get out of bed, other than the fact that if he gets into a wheelchair we will find somewhere to take him to ‘enjoy’ a cigarette. This is end of life care, so what harm can a few cigarettes do to terminally ill patients. If this is the last pleasure they can have before they pass away why should bureaucracy deny them this. If patients’ relatives are willing to take them out for a cigarette perhaps there could be a discreet sheltered area provided somewhere within the grounds for them to do so.

We all know that it is increasingly socially unacceptable to smoke in public places, but a lot of Hospice patients are elderly and have smoked from an early age and were brought up in an era where up until recent years they were able to smoke almost anywhere they liked.

Although a place was suggested where our relative could have a cigarette, it was a long way to get to, which he found exhausting and uncomfortable to achieve. Also this area had nowhere for anyone to sit other than the patient in a wheelchair.

Everyone of us knows that smokers are treated as social outcasts, but this is end of life care, and what harm can it do to patients at this late stage in their lives?

Lots of places provide a sheltered area for smokers i.e bars and restaurants, even prisoners who have had their liberty taken from them are allowed to smoke if they wish to, but somehow the terminally ill are denied a designated covered area to enjoy this ‘one last pleasure’.

We implore you to consider providing a discreet, sheltered designated smoking area within the hospice grounds to enable dying patients to have a cigarette. We know this request will be too late for our loved one, but maybe in the future it will help other palliative care patients.

Ms C Palmer, Mrs G M Walker, Mrs R Bradbury , Mrs S Wilson

Family of patient, Mansfield

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