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Caring since day one: Audrey Fulton

Wednesday 25th April 2018

In February 1988, after a five year fundraising effort and more than a year of renovation works, St. Vincent’s Hospice opened their doors at North Road in Johnstone.

Now celebrating their 30th Anniversary, St. Vincent’s has supported thousands of patients and families from all across the Renfrewshire community over the years, expanding and developing their services along the way.

Looking back on this landmark year is Audrey Fulton, an Auxiliary Nurse with the Hospice who has been there since day one and still going strong.  She recently spoke about some of her memories of the beginning and how things have changed over the years.

So how different was St. Vincent’s on day one?

It’s 1,000 times different when compared to back then. There is so much going on now! We had Sisters Margaret, Joanna and Rosaline, along with a team of staff nurses. There was great camaraderie, but there was a lot of things you just got on with without really thinking about it.

The Hospice back then had been the “Jaconelli House” and that brought its own challenges, helping people get up and down the stairs. Also, if you were if you were upstairs, it was harder to keep an eye on what was happening downstairs. I think saying it was “tiring” would be the right word, but there are so many happy memories and experiences from the early days, it was great to be a part of.

What were some of the things that stick out in your mind from back then?

It took a lot of time and a lot of effort just to get the Hospice up and running, every single penny had to be accounted for as it made all the difference, so it was a very frugal time. But at the same time, everyone was so grateful and generous. Not just with their money, but time. Relatives and loved ones of patients in particular were amazing, we had people who would come in just to do the ironing. To do a bit of gardening. Fix anything that they spotted around the place that needed done. We never would have been able to keep the place running without that support.

What was the biggest change when you moved from North Road to the new Hospice?

The main thing I noticed was that we didn’t have stairs anymore: it was all on the one level, and that made the job a lot easier for everyone. But I think the main thing over the years is just how much we’ve grown. It’s amazing to think, of all the things we do now.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of working somewhere like St. Vincent’s Hospice?

It has to be the patients. Today, the job may be physically easier thanks to new technology and more staff, but emotionally it is still very demanding. Getting to know people and being there for their families is so rewarding.

You know, over the years you meet so many people, but sometimes in life you meet people that you will remember for the rest of your life. One of those was a gentleman who came into the Hospice with Motor Neurons Disease. He ran his own business and was just a character. He couldn’t speak, but he had a light writer, so he would write things down and it would speak them out for him.

He actually wrote a book while he was here, The Unwanted Companion, about his experiences with MND and the Hospice. He was an inspiration. There’s no other word for it.

For more information about St. Vincent’s Hospice, or to find out how you can donate or Volunteer, visit: www.SVH.co.uk.

Caring since day one: Audrey Fulton