Christian, a patient at North London Hospice, wanted to return home to spend his final days with his mother. But there was a problem: his home was in Honduras. Read how the incredible staff at North London Hospice pulled out all the stops to help Christian achieve his dying wish.
Reproduced with kind permission from North London Hospice.
Arriving in the UK
Christian was 41 when, in September 2022, he arrived in the UK from Honduras seeking a better life. He claimed political asylum – but sadly, whilst he had been granted refugee status and placed in a refugee centre, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
The cancer had spread, and he was referred for palliative care.
Christian was admitted to North London Hospice’s Inpatient Unit at the end of February 2023. He soon told staff that he wanted to be with his mother who was still living in Honduras.
Not only did the hospice team need to provide palliative care, but they now had to work with the Home Office to help Christian make his final journey home.
Travelling as an end of life patient
The process was not simple: it involved huge amounts of logistical planning. Thankfully, in late March 2023, Christian was finally able to fly back to Honduras.
Staff at the hospice washed and ironed all of Christian’s clothes. But during the process of packing they made a heartbreaking discovery: it became clear that he did not own any shoes. So, Anna Cooper, North London Hospice’s Director of Fundraising, bought him a pair. Christian became emotional, telling staff that he could not remember the last time he had a new pair of shoes.
Liz Perez, Patient Engagement and Experience Manager, spent a lot of time with Christian, as did Healthcare Assistant Genette Lane. Both speak Spanish, so were able to support Christian to communicate.
“Christian was understandably anxious about the journey and desperately wanted to see his mum.
“As a team we did all we could to reassure him, and we were so delighted when the Home Office confirmed that he had reached his mum safely."
- Liz Perez, North London Hospice
Liz added: "In particular, the nurse in charge, Hawa Milton-Gorvie, with Dr Mary Johnston and Dr Jamie Tye, worked tirelessly to move things on with the Home Office and liaise with the immigration helpline.”
Chief Executive of North London Hospice, Declan Carroll, also met Christian. He liaised with the hospice’s IT team to organise a laptop and screen so he could watch films and FaceTime his mum.
Liz Perez explains: “Everyone was so in tune with supporting Christian. The team from IT came in at the weekend, driving for three hours to set up the laptop. They were incredibly mindful that Christian had no visitors and could not speak English. He was so touched.”
Christian’s final words
Before Christian left London he said: “I am very grateful to the hospice staff for the care that I have received. It has been lovely to feel so well looked after and I am thankful that they are able to support me in my wish to return to my home country to be with my mother.”
Liz Perez added: “It was a real privilege to be part of the team caring for Christian and hopefully we made some small impact to his end-of-life care. I also think that when you have a team of people both clinical and non-clinical, cross working in this way, it creates an energy where you can collectively achieve amazing things.”
Thank you to North London Hospice for sharing Christian’s story.