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Kindness and love for Jacob

Jacob in the Hospice Specialist Palliative Care Unit (SPCU) with family cat Alkaline

Jacob Helleur had a real rapport with his hospice community nurse. The trust between them meant he could receive the care he needed.

Jacob died aged 21 in November. He had experienced a lifetime of illness, including brittle bone disease and juvenile arthritis.

He’d been in hospice care since September 2018. At first, hospice community nurses visited him at home where he lived with his parents. But in April last year, he needed to be admitted to hospice for symptom control, to manage his pain and bedsores.

They took on his care and we could just love him.

It took a special person to convince Jacob to move – because he was painfully aware of how likely it was he would break a bone in transit.

That person was his community nurse Kelly Ryan. Jacob’s sister Emma says he trusted Kelly. “Because he had been in medical care his whole childhood and teenage years, he was used to being told one thing and then told another. But she built a rapport with Jake.

“She didn’t just listen. She could actually hear what his fears and anxieties were.”

It took a team of four people six hours to move Jacob but it was accomplished without broken bones.

Jacob was bed-ridden in the last two years of his life. He loved gaming, especially playing the multiplayer role-playing game RuneScape. He also loved Marvel movies and music. Emma says he could be a difficult character. Even so, there was often a lot of laughter around his hospice bed and the staff came to love him. “He wormed his way into their hearts.”

Jacob and his mother Fiona

Jacob’s mother Fiona says she appreciated everything about their hospice care: From the kindness of the receptionist to the way the staff said their goodbyes when Jacob died, and also the continuing contact from the pastor, David Moynan.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the care from hospice. It was exemplary, and it extended very much to his family – always a ready hug and support.”

Fiona had a special word for Jacob’s doctor, Juliet: “She’s straight-up and gifted in her work. “We appreciated her ability to communicate what was going on and when it was going to happen. She knew how hard he could be. All the staff were just incredible.”

Emma says: “The biggest thing was that for the last few months of his life, we could just be his family. Mum could still be hands-on because she wanted that, but she could actually just be his mum.

“They took on his care and we could just love him.”

The Helleur family at Ben and Claudette’s wedding: from left, Matthew, Fiona, Ben, Claudette, Neil, Emma and Jacob.

Fiona says she wants the Nelson Tasman public to know how blessed we are to have this hospice.

“Please help support it.”

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