Evelyn and Len’s life of love and respect supported to the end

Len cared for his wife, Evelyn, for three years before her death – supported by HammondCare’s Community Palliative Care Team.

Len with his wife Evelyn enjoying a drink at a restaurantMarried for 51 years, Evelyn, originally from Scotland, met Len on her first day at work. It was December 1965, and they were both ‘runabouts’ for an architect firm in North Sydney. After raising two children, they then ran a successful architectural business, spanning 20 years. 

 “We worked hard over long hours.” Len said “I was away a lot, visiting clients in country NSW. Fortunately Evelyn loved quilting, which provided good company for her in my absence. Our granddaughter Brooke now loves to quilt too, she reminds me of her very much.”

In 2018, after months of illness, Evelyn’s doctor from the North Shore Private Hospital suggested they involve the local palliative care team.

“I was shocked; it’s a bit of a blur now," said Len, "but I still remember the doctor saying, ‘It’s not for the dying, it’s for support’. And it’s the best advice we’ve ever had.”

Len cared for Evelyn for three years before her death, supported by HammondCare’s Community Palliative Care Team. “I hold the palliative care team in such high regard for what they did for us – I can’t put my appreciation into adequate words. They were marvellous, keeping us informed every step of the way, ensuring we understood Evelyn’s options, gently advising us what to expect next.

“One of the hardest things to accept was that plans we’d made for our retirement would have to change. Evelyn loved to travel and whilst Evelyn got to meet her first great grandchild Myla and share some special time with her, she didn’t get to meet her second great grandchild Aria.”

The palliative care team arranged for Evelyn’s life story to be written as part of HammondCare’s Volunteer Biography Service, providing a means to record and pass on Evelyn’s life story. “Writer Christine Marshall did a wonderful job” Len said, “we now have this precious memento to share with our grandchildren and great grandchildren.”

The team also enabled Evelyn’s wish to die at home to be fulfilled and arranged provision of a hospital bed, which meant Len could sleep next to Evelyn, holding her hand.

“I feel her presence when I’m at home; she’s with me all the time. I draw comfort from the fact she died with dignity and respect, and her wish to end life peacefully at home was fulfilled.”

Commemorating National Palliative Care Week with our theme Right time, right place – it’s your right, Evelyn and Len’s story is a reminder of the unique circumstances of each individual in our care.

HammondCare’s multidisciplinary teams work closely together with families and loved ones, and alongside the patient or community clients undergoing palliative care. Our relationship-based approach means we ensure each person in our care is understood, and their personal history, beliefs, customs and life experience are respected and acknowledged every step of the way.

Find out more about how HammondCare is honouring Palliative Care Week