Phone human-readable description of the message we trying to accomplish. Search human-readable description of the message we trying to accomplish. Map pin human-readable description of the message we trying to accomplish.

Call our 24/7 advice line for health care professionals and families if you need support with symptom management and end of life care - 01284 766133.

Your Experience survey

If you have used our Hospice's services, please consider taking some time to inform us of your experience.

Jess Smith

A proud Dad and family man, Neville Smith spent his final weeks being cared for by St Nicholas Hospice Care. Neville’s daughter Jess, 19, reflects on their family’s experience.

“It just felt like they just knew him so well.”

Working in construction, Neville was also a farmer, and it wouldn’t be unusual for him to go to work from 5am to 5pm and then go out and work on the farm for as long as he could.

Neville also had a passion for cars, especially classic ones.

It may seem simple on the surface, but an act of compassion by a member of the ward team left a lasting impression on the family.

Jess says: “This is one of our favourite memories. Dad used to really like his cars, and he had a car magazine with him at the Hospice, and there was one time none of us were there and they just picked up the magazine and started reading it to him.

“Dad didn’t need to ask them to do it; they just did it, and to us and him, it just felt like they just knew him so well. Dad also couldn’t stop talking about it and that they just did something like that for him.”

“The longer we were there and the more we got used to it, the more it just felt just like home.”

When her Dad going into the Hospice was first spoken about, Jess, who was in primary school when her Dad first became ill, says that she did feel quite apprehensive and unsure of what to expect.

Jess explains: “I didn’t want to accept that Dad was in there (the Hospice), but then as soon as I spoke to the nurses, I felt better about what was happening.

“I had spoken to family about it, but speaking to the nurses was different. They were professional, and there were always people you could talk to if you needed support.

“To begin with, being at the Hospice did feel strange, but then after a while, it got quite homely, and then the longer we were there and the more we got used to it, the more it just felt just like home.”

The more time the family spent at the Hospice, the more comfortable they became, with Jess even saying it felt like a ‘second home’ for them.

She adds: “It was definitely like a second home. Sometimes, the Hospice felt more like home than our actual home did. I think that was because we could see that Dad felt so relaxed and at peace there.

“It definitely didn’t feel like a Hospice, like what I had expected it to be like. I thought it would be like a hospital and very clinical, but it wasn’t like that at all.

“Dad’s room really did feel like a little bedroom, and he had one of the rooms that had patio doors, so we’d open up the doors, and he would just sit there listening to the birds. He loved birds. Whenever we see a buzzard, we always think of him.”

Moments to ourselves

At the Hospice, as much as we can, we welcome patients’ loved ones whenever they would like to visit, and having the freedom to come and go really made a difference to Jess.

“I was doing my exams at the time, and I felt really bad not being there with Dad. I felt so bad for a while, but the nurses helped me realise that it was okay, that I could go and do my exams and spend whatever time I could there, and that really helped.

“The separate family room also meant that when we needed to, we could take some time away from Dad. We could have moments to ourselves,” explains Jess.

“We didn’t have to worry about caring for him. We just got to be there and enjoy him.”

When Neville was at the Hospice, this allowed his family to be his family. They were no longer in charge of administering all of his medications, which relieved an enormous amount of stress.

They could enjoy spending time together.

Jess said: “The worst part for our family was managing the medication, and once that was taken off of our hands, it was a big relief, especially for Mum. We didn’t have to worry about the time and what we should be doing. We could be with Dad without worrying. It expanded our time with him.

“Being at the Hospice meant we got our Dad back. We didn’t have to worry about caring for him. We just got to be there and enjoy him.

“Every day at home, Dad was either sick or in some pain, but at the Hospice, it just seemed to be under control.

“Dad was also so comfortable at the Hospice. I think it was the most comfortable we saw him.”

“Our choices were still our own.”

During Neville’s time on our ward, a lot of the worries and stresses around caring for him were taken away from his family, something Jess says they were grateful for, but at the same time, the choices around Neville’s care were still theirs, they were still in control of any decisions.

Jess said: “They would give us all of the information we needed, but our choices were still our own.

“They would never pressure us into a decision or decide to do something a certain way. They would just advise us.”

Family time

Jess, who has three older sisters, describes her Dad as a family man and a big softie, and during their time at the Hospice, they were all able to spend time together just their little family, without having to worry about any interruptions.

Jess explains: “We could just have our little bubble, and we also felt secure and protected knowing that Dad was getting exactly the care that he needed. When we were caring for Dad at home, we would worry if we were getting this right or getting that right. At the Hospice, it was all taken care of. Everyone was so supportive.”

“Dad was a big softie. He didn’t look like it, but he really was, and he was definitely a family person for sure. And he was an outdoor man. He loved to be outdoors,” Jess added.

“Lots of jokes and laughter.”

Neville also built a good relationship with the nurses and loved sharing stories about his family with them.

“The nurses were so lovely. Dad ended up speaking to them more than us I think. He told them all sorts about us all. They knew so much about us. I’d walk into the ward, and they would say something, and I’d ask them, ‘How did you know that?’ and they’d say, ‘Your Dad told me,’ and there would be lots of jokes and laughter,” said Jess.

Little touches also brought moments of normality to the family too. From being able to order takeaways to enjoying a hot chocolate, these little touches have been remembered.

“The hot chocolate, it was just so good. It was the best, and I’ll always remember that,” said Jess.

They were like ‘little angels.’

Jess and her family are still in touch with some of the nurses, and they bring presents to the Hospice at Easter and Christmas. And they are all grateful for the care and support they and Neville received.

Jess said: “The nurses had to do their job, and they did, but they did it in a way that meant we could still have time when we needed it. They just seemed to know when we needed time and also when we needed a break.

“They were like little angels. They took our worries away and let us focus on spending that last little bit of time with Dad, just doing normal things, and I’ll always be grateful for that.”

“Nothing we would want to change about it.”

Even in his last few days, Jess remembers that her Dad was still making jokes and making everyone laugh, and Neville was surrounded by his closest family when he died.

Jess recalls: “We were all able to be there at the end. I do remember we were waiting for one of my sister’s partners to come back in from outside. He came in and said, ‘I’m here, Neville, ‘ then, after that, Dad just seemed to take his last breath. It was like he was waiting for us all to be there.

“The way it happened, as a family, we have all said that there is nothing we would want to change about it, and we are so glad that Dad was able to go into the Hospice and spend his last days there. Thanks to the Hospice, as a family, we had our Dad back for his final days.

“We did struggle towards the end; we didn’t want to let go of Dad, but the nurses helped us with that. They encouraged us to do things like take his fingerprints, which we did, and for my birthday, I got a little locket with one of his fingerprints on the back.”

Neville was 58 when he died on April 8, 2022, having fought prostate and later bone cancer.

Do you have a story about your connection with St Nicholas Hospice Care?


In our 40th year celebration, we want to highlight the many contributions in our Hospice’s history.

We’re aiming to proudly feature 40 faces across the year, could you be someone who has a story to share?

If you are someone who has a fond memory to share, you can do so here.