Your kind donations supported Rosie’s dignity.
When Rosie’s health went quickly downhill in 2021, it was only fitting that in her final months she was shown the care, compassion, and welcoming environment she had always displayed to others, and at Tōtara Hospice we feel privileged to have been a part of that journey.
Rosie’s life was centred around what she could do for others. She was a retired nurse and counsellor, married to retired GP Dr. Jack Fraser; together they ran a solo practice in Pakuranga serving their local community. In retirement, a love for cooking, bringing people together, and pet rescue continued to give her purpose. Her daughter, Vivienne, recalls the bespoke dining table in her parents’ large home, designed long enough to fit 12 people around, creating a home undeniably full of love, joy, and great food!
Rosie had a raft of health complications, and more recently had radiation therapy for a lung tumour. Rosie’s compounding illnesses and underlying leukaemia began having an impact on her overall wellbeing. Amidst last year’s COVID-19 lockdown, the family recognised their mother was taking a turn for the worse, contacted the GP, and Rosie was admitted to hospital.
Before her most recent hospital admission, Vivienne had a feeling that it may be the last, so made sure that her three siblings and their children had a brief chance to connect, as Level 4 lockdown restrictions created a lot of uncertainty.
While Rosie was in Middlemore Hospital, Vivienne and her family tried to understand the complex level of care Rosie would require when discharged, and what their options were. Vivienne rang Tōtara Hospice to understand the criteria, before setting up video calls with specialists, who all agreed that Rosie wouldn’t survive more treatment, and that Hospice would be able to ensure she was well-supported and cared for in her end-of-life journey.
Vivienne shared that “At first the word ‘hospice’ absolutely scared me. Until a friend was admitted last year, I’d never experienced Hospice. I thought it would be really depressing, but all the warm-hearted staff, relaxation spaces, and beautiful garden pathways, just had a total feeling of serenity.”
When the decision was made to transfer Rosie over, Vivienne and her father were invited as guests to also stay.
“The lovely staff just thought it might only be a matter of hours that Mum had, so they made the call that Dad and I could safely stay with her. I felt really privileged to be there, and to support Dad as well,” Vivienne said.
When Rosie arrived at Hospice, she really clicked with the nurses (having been one herself), telling many stories about her life. One nurse shared with Vivienne how Rosie felt comfortable enough she could talk about anything with the nurses and ‘there was nothing sacred’.
“The staff at Hospice have high emotional intelligence, and are in the perfect job and at the right place. You can tell by how genuinely caring everyone is,” shared Vivienne.
For Vivienne and her father, Hospice took over that ‘carer’ role, and were able to provide Rosie with everything she needed in her final days. Once she could no longer eat, she was instead provided with liquids and ice blocks, they would swab her mouth with moisture, and apply lip balms. She was given the utmost care, consideration and comfort, as were Vivienne and her father, being supported as special guests.
“Dad enjoyed the social elements, talking to the other patients and guests. Also we were given counselling, and the spiritual care support person visited us too. Dad and I had access to every single bit of support you might need,” Vivienne said.
Hospice allows patients to live their final days with honour and dignity. Rosie appreciated the large focus on personal hygiene, with the nurses making a huge effort to get her to the bathroom, keep her fresh and indulge Rosie in her favourite perfume; they even wore it too, as Rosie insisted!
“Mum just wanted to maintain her dignity right until the end. I really appreciate how special mum’s final days at Tōtara Hospice really were.”
Since Rosie’s passing, Vivienne and her family have had contact from a Hospice counsellor, and intend to maintain a long-standing relationship, including donations of cucumbers for events, as she and her husband Arie are in the business of growing them in Pukekohe.
“We’re so grateful. For us, it was right that she was in Hospice rather than at home; we just would not have been able to cope, keep her pain-free, or just give that 24/7 attention. It was a godsend, really.”
Thank you Vivienne for sharing your story.