In October 2020 Erika Akyalcin was referred to PCSE from her GP after receiving a terminal diagnosis. At 57 years old she and her husband Jenk decided they wanted to stay together in their family home, rather than living out her remaining time in hospital. The support of our specialist team of nurses, social workers, counsellors and occupational therapists enabled Erika to manage her symptoms and focus on living well. They also provided support to her husband Jenk and their two children, Vanessa and Tayne.
‘The nurses became almost like part of the family in a way and were very mindful of Erika’s circumstance, and treated her with dignity and respect, not just from a medical point of view but treating her like a human being. It was not just nursing support, it was also guidance, counselling and even just friendly conversations that helped our family through the process.’
Jenk and his children had no previous experience in a caring role, so navigating this time was challenging and filled with uncertainty. Fortunately, the accessibility of our team helped to alleviate some of their worries as our specialist staff were available for support 24/7.
‘I knew I could rely on the the nurses or even the receptionist. I could phone late at night and it just gave me a degree of comfort where I thought they’re with me here, I can do this. I did phone at all sorts of crazy hours. There were a couple of occasions where I was unsure about medication dosages and I was able to call and check which was fantastic. It was knowing that it’s not just a visit, it’s a whole organisation backing you up, that made a big difference.’
The importance of our integrated team model was further emphasised by their family who found the different pillars of support paramount to maintaining a sense of normalcy and routine.
‘It was outstanding because we could continue to go about our day, the visits felt like someone we’d known for many years dropping by. That sort of support it’s hard to describe, but the team came out and blended into our family. They weren’t just there for the clinical side.
The team saw beyond their own roles and realised that there are others there at PCSE that may have a role to play in our family. Whether it’s for counselling, bereavement support or the volunteer program. Everyone in the organisation knows what’s going on and is talking about that so they can help you in different ways.’
Jenk is now a part of our Bereavement Support Program that is available for families for up to 13 months after the death of a loved one. We are grateful for his, and his families, willingness to share their story and experience with PCSE.