26th January 2016

Hospice nurse braves floods to reach anxious patients


An intrepid hospice nurse braved thigh-high flood water to reach anxious husband and wife patients Robert and Christine Turton who were stranded at their home in Ombersley, Worcestershire.

The Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) answered St Richard’s Nurse Specialist Gayle Webster’s appeal for help to reach the couple who were anxious about symptoms and that Mr Turton’s oxygen supply was running low.

The River Severn had burst its banks in early January making the couple’s home inaccessible.  Two crews from SARA met Mrs Webster at Ombersley Medical Centre and kitted out the Nurse Specialist in a wet suit, life-jacket, helmet and wellingtons.  Mrs Webster had already liaised with the GP and District Nurses to organize prescriptions for new medication which they had ready in a waterproof bag.

The crews drove as far as they could before Mrs Webster had to walk the final stretch, with the crews using depth monitors to stop her being swept away in the rising flood waters.

Robert and Chris TurtonMrs Christine Turton said, “I wasn’t feeling well and we were worried Bob was low on oxygen and had a chest infection. I spoke to Gayle on the phone and she said she could tell I was really down and that we both needed support. The next thing I know she rings to tell me she is on her way!”

Mrs Turton, who was a manager at the St Richard’s Hospice shop in Droitwich for six years added, “It was absolutely marvelous and we were both very shocked but Gayle really went the extra mile to support us. Gayle has been our St Richard’s Nurse Specialist for about a year and is wonderful. We have nothing but praise for the hospice.”

Mrs Webster said, “When we spoke on the phone in the morning I could hear the anxiety and really Gayle Webster CNS head and shoulderswanted to reach them. SARA was excellent and helped out straight away including producing 2 oxygen cylinders. I couldn’t have done it without them.

“When we got there I spent an hour with the family and they were very relieved. All the SARA team were welcomed into the house too for a much-needed hot drink. It’s the first time I’ve worn a wetsuit to visit a patient!”

St Richard’s Hospice provides free specialist palliative care for patients living with life-limiting illnesses and supports their families. Each year the hospice team supports over 2,600 patients and family members in Worcestershire with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect.

Patients are cared for in Day Hospice, the 17-bed In-patient Unit or in their own homes by a specialist professional team as well as many trained volunteers.

In the In-patient Unit, specialist staff are on hand 24 hours a day to manage patients’ symptoms and where, if appropriate, patients may spend the last few days of life in comfort and dignity. St Richard’s is an independent charity and is grateful for all donations to help it to continue its work.