Ruth & Tracy’s Story – everyone deserves to be treated the same when it comes to hospice care
Charity / Fri 7th Oct 2022 at 07:29am
A WOMAN whose partner was cared for by St Clare Hospice has shared her story in the hope that more people from the LGBTQ+ community will not be afraid to access the specialist care and support that every person deserves at the end of life.
Equity of care is one of the core objectives of St Clare’s 2022+ Strategy to ensure that no one misses out on vital palliative care services through fear of discrimination or a history of negative experiences by making sure its specialist support is truly inclusive and meets the needs of all patients.
Ruth Silverstone’s partner Tracy was first referred to St Clare by her oncology nurse after being diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2012. During the course of her illness, she spent two stays on the Inpatient Unit in Harlow to help manage the pain and other symptoms of her cancer and was also cared for by the Hospice at Home team in the final weeks of her life before her death in May 2015.
Speaking ahead of Hospice Care Week (Oct 10-14), a nationwide initiative to raise awareness of the value of hospice care, Ruth said that throughout their experience with St Clare the couple were treated with dignity and respect.
“As a gay couple we felt completely accepted at St Clare,” she said. “What was so nice was I didn’t need to even have a discussion about it, all the staff referred to me as the next of kin, as the person who would make the main decisions. I found consistently with St Clare that every member of staff said ‘Yes, we can make that happen’.”
“If you ask any gay person, the ideal response is no response. You want to be recognised, you want equality of access, but without it being extremely unusual or having the sense that people are making special adjustments for you. And we didn’t feel any of that; it was the perfect fit.”
Since Tracy’s death, Ruth has found that maintaining a meaningful connection with the Hospice helps to keep her memory alive. She became a Compassionate Neighbour in 2018 and joined the pastoral support team in 2021 to offer comfort to other families going through a similar experience.
“This is a positive story, but I still think people need to know that your gay partner who is dying is going to be given dignity, the same as anyone else, and the living partner will also be treated with dignity.”
Sarah Thompson, St Clare Hospice CEO said, “The story of Tracy’s care at St Clare is an important one to tell, because all too often LGBTQ+ people don’t see other people like themselves in hospice stories and therefore can’t imagine to how they might be treated should they or their partner need care for a terminal illness. Hospice Care Week seeks to shine a light on the work of hospices across the UK and we are pleased to be working with those communities who could benefit from our services but whom we are not currently reaching, such as the LGBTQ+ community in West Essex. I’d like to thank Ruth for sharing the story of her and Tracy’s care as part of this important work.”
For more information about St Clare Hospice’s care, visit stclarehospice.org.uk or call 01279 773700
I am at a loss to understand why anybody would want to advertise their sexual preferences when receiving any form of medical attention. To me , our world becomes stranger by the week.