A grandfather who passed away in hospital had his final wishes granted by nurses who went “above and beyond”.
Lois Smith, 18, spoke of her family’s deep gratitude to the nursing staff at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) after her grandfather, Roland Smith, died due to complications with pneumonia.
Lois said: “My grandad went to the doctor one day because he was having chest pains. The doctor sent him to get his chest checked and that’s when he found out he had cancer, just before Christmas.
“They found a cancerous tumour in his bowel and he was admitted to ARI to have it removed. He was supposed to go home after the surgery, but he contracted pneumonia.
“It was awful because there was a lot of talk of him coming home and getting better, but we got a phone call one day that it was just a matter of time before it was the end.”
While 80-year-old Roland, from the city’s west end, was in hospital, Lois said it was a “difficult time” for the family, but the kindness of nursing staff on Ward 206 brought her grandfather happiness in his final days by granting him small favours.
She added: “The nurses were all so amazing – I couldn’t fault them. They explained everything that was going on and knew how to keep us informed.
“It had been three weeks with my grandad in hospital, it was clear that he had formed a bond with the nurses in the ward. When we would come to visit him, he would hear the nurses’ voices in the corridors or when he would see them his face would light up – we would see him laughing and joking around.
“It was clear that he loved them.”
One of the first wishes Roland had was to eat some ice cream.
She added: “I don’t know where he got the idea from because he’s not really an ice cream person. Maybe he saw someone eating it, but he would not stop asking.
“He wasn’t really eating since it was difficult for him to do so – the liquid would get into his lungs – but on the Thursday before he passed away, he was so chuffed when the nurses gave him permission to have some.”
Roland was also allowed a visit from cocker spaniel Koda–whose presence immediately “lit up the whole room”.
His granddaughter said: “A nurse overheard my dad and grandad talking about my dog, Koda, who he would usually take care of every Wednesday. The nurse let my dad know that I could bring in Koda for a short while, as a small way to bring a smile to my grandad’s face.
“My granny had been sitting with him for hours and she didn’t get a smile from him, but when Koda walked in his face lit up and so did the whole room. It’s sad to see, but Koda can still smell him and looks for him every once in a while.”
As his last wish, Roland asked for a glass of McEwan’s Export, which Lois said he’d bought a can of before being admitted to ARI for his surgery.
Lois said: “He’s never been a big drinker, but all he could talk about for two weeks was about having a pint of McEwan’s when he got out of hospital.
“Since he was very ill, the day before he passed away, the nurses allowed us to bring in a can and we could sponge feed it to him.
“He was so happy. He wasn’t able to speak much at that point, so he would give us a thumbs up, a smile and pointed to the tin when he wanted more.”
Lois emphasised her family’s gratitude to the nursing staff at ARI for granting her grandfather small wishes to make his final days easier. She added: “Being able to have those small wishes does make such a difference, especially if someone is dying. There’s so much negativity about the NHS out there that I want to highlight that it’s doing a great job.
“These nurses dedicate their time and went above and beyond for my grandad. They were there for us and kept strong for us when he passed away.”
A NHS Grampian spokesman said: “We are enormously proud of the compassion, professionalism and caring our staff show, particularly when it comes to something as important as end of life care. Clearly that will always be a very difficult experience but, we know that it is often the little things that staff can do that make all the difference to patients and loved ones at times like these.”
Roland passed away on March 6 and leaves behind his wife of 54 years, Dorothy, children Brian and Karen, and grandchildren Lois, Lyra and Blair. He also leaves behind Karen’s boyfriend Kenneth, and his daughter-in-law Teresa, who said she always considered him like a father to her.