Rowcroft patient Tony Dunford speaks out about the vital support he’s received from Rowcroft at his home in Stoke Fleming
Tony and Eileen Dunford moved to Dartmouth from Bristol over 20 years ago. They fell in love with Devon over a period of 30 years, during which time they’d spent family holidays in the beautiful village of Dittisham. The stunning countryside, the river Dart and the bustling community of Dartmouth were all things that that they loved “We always knew we’d end up in Dartmouth,” said Eileen.
After more than a decade in Dartmouth they moved to a lovely new home in the village of Stoke Fleming. This gave them panoramic views of the sea and a much flatter lifestyle, which made life a little easier for them both, but also retained the community feel of Dartmouth.
In December 2013 Tony was unfortunately diagnosed with a leiomyosarcoma in his right groin – a cancer of the soft tissue.
Tony explained “I was told they couldn’t operate because the sarcoma was very close to the main artery in my leg so instead I had 30 lots of radiotherapy, which helped. However, when I went back to see my doctor in June 2015, my condition had deteriorated; my leg had started to tremble badly and that’s when I was referred to Andie at Rowcroft to help with my pain.”
Andie is a palliative care Clinical Nurse Specialist at Rowcroft, one of a team of ten working in the community throughout Devon. As part of her role, Andie provides specialist advice to patients in Dartmouth, and the surrounding villages, regarding management of their symptoms, and emotional and psychological support for them and their family, including planning for future care.
Following Tony’s referral to Rowcroft, Andie was able to meet him and wife Eileen in their home to assess what help they needed. She assessed Tony’s pain and advised on appropriate medications, including pain relieving patches. She also discussed Tony’s future wishes for care. On one occasion Tony required admission to Torbay Hospital and with the help of the hospital palliative care team he was able to be transferred to Dartmouth hospital to be nursed closer to home.
Rowcroft has very good communication links with Torbay Hospital so Andie was able to communicate directly with Tony’s’ consultant oncologist following referral, and has since acted as Tony’s advocate, helping to control his symptoms and avoid lengthy appointments with the hospital. During his admission to Dartmouth Hospital, Tony was also seen by Andie and a hospice consultant, who assessed Tony and advised the hospital staff on his symptom management.
Andie explained: “I am in a privileged position to be invited into patients’ homes, and be given the opportunity to get to know patients’ and their families, to help them with any aspect of their illness and where needed to sign post them to other services, or people who may be able to help. I have worked in Dartmouth for the last six years and feel very fortunate to work with such an amazing team of health care professionals who truly support their local community.”
Andie receives vital support from Dartmouth Caring, Dartmouth District Nurses, Dartmouth Medical practice and Dartmouth Hospital Hoto yoto ensure to ensure she can co-ordinate a range of services so her patients can maintain a good quality of life and be looked after in their preferred place of care.
Tony’s preferred place of care is at home, and Andie has been able to secure a care package for Tony, which is ongoing. Tony explained: “Andie has been marvellous; if you ask her something, she knows, if you need a Doctor, she’ll get a Doctor, she answers our questions – without bluffing - and she’s here whenever we need her. We’ve been very lucky; Andie has given us confidence and enabled us to be at home together”.
From 2015 – 16, Rowcroft supported more than 60 people in Dartmouth and Kingswear, including patients and their family members, to manage some of the most difficult and challenging days of their lives. For Andie, the main thing is to try and make a difference to her patients’ lives.
Rowcroft is currently experiencing a drastic shortfall in funding and needs to raise an additional £585,000 by the end of this year. You can help to protect this vital service, that is so precious to people in South Devon – your friends, neighbours and loved ones – by signing up to make a monthly donation. You really can make a huge difference, please do what you can to help. Thank you.