I'm now at ease with what the future holds
Do not be afraid to come to hospice. That's the message patient Aileen Himona wants to share with as many people as possible.
"This is a special place with a very special wairua (spirit)," she says.
Aileen, who is living with pancreatic cancer, was referred to Cranford in June and says she ignored the first referral letter that came in the mail.
"I was so busy. And my perception was that hospice was a place where people went to die," she says. "Now I know that's not the case."
Cranford's Kaitakawaenga Anita Rarere's role has been invaluable in helping Aileen understand the holistic care that hospice offers.
"Anita talked to me about hospice. I want to tell people there is nothing to be afraid of. I'm now at ease with what the future holds. The more people I can share this message with the better," she says.
Aileen says as well as a special wairua, Cranford has an incredibly gifted staff. They genuinely care, she says. They have a calm and caring demeanour which helps put people at ease.
It takes a special person to be a hospice nurse and it's something Aileen knows a bit about. She trained as a nurse in one of the last 18-month community nursing courses before the system changed with the start of enrolled nursing training.
"I trained in Hastings, went back to work at the Wairoa Hospital, got married, stopped work to have two children and then returned to nursing," she says.
In 1994 she was seconded to set up a health clinic in Waikaremoana; its purpose to promote health care amongst the Māori population. She spent a year setting it up and was then endorsed by the local kaumatua to stay on and coordinate the services of the clinic.
It's a role she relished because it took her out of the "protected hospital" environment to the real world.
"It was an eye-opener working in the community, dealing with real problems; helping people deal with government agencies, the court system, even the undertakers," she says.
Seeing the need, filling the gap
Where Aileen saw the need, she did her best to fill the gap. Doctors visited the clinic every second week and she ensured other services were covered.
"When I saw the need for antenatal classes, I started them in my own lounge," she says. Later, she saw interest in the cervical screening programme and ensured it was made available to the Waikaremoana community.
Local support from people and businesses is a foundation of the Wairoa and surrounding community. A strong sense of whānau, built on respect and generosity is the backbone of the community.
Aileen has been active both in her paid role as a nurse and also as a volunteer in the community, including the fire brigade and the emergency response unit.
Even after her own diagnosis, she has continued to keep busy, helping establish the Waikaremoana Cancer Support Group. This group spearheaded a recent fundraising campaign, a charity dinner and a show, expected to raise about $3000 for specialised equipment to be used by patients in the area.
Cranford Hospice's care extends from Wairoa down to central Hawke's Bay. Over the past year 3.3 per cent of referrals (16 patients) lived in the Wairoa, a figure expected to increase as Cranford's presence grows in the district.
Cranford General Manager Helen Blaxland says the Cranford medical team has a great relationship with GPs and district nurses in Wairoa. "We consider it a privilege to be in a position to offer our service to Wairoa and we work alongside the great team of people up there," she says.
Cranford Hospice Kaitakawaenga Anita Rarere and the Cranford Hospice Clinical Team visit regularly, calling on patients and whānau and connecting and building relationships with Māori health providers.
Aileen is grateful for their input.
"My days would have been over already if I had never come to Cranford Hospice.