Radio review: Painting a tender picture of hospice care

Nuala McCann

Little Volcanoes Radio 4

Pilgrim's Hospice, Margate. Early morning and Claudia, the hospital cat slips by, pad, pad, oh so softly.

The nurse slips by too, a set of keys jangles in her pocket.

But it's oh so silent here.... tread gently, people are sleeping.

In the kitchen, the cook is making eggs on toast. It's the little things that get to you, she says.

Like the serviette that came back with the dirty dishes: “Thank you for my breakfast,” someone had written on it.

Small things count big when you're on borrowed time.

Not too many people want to spend time in a hospice – but Cathy FitzGerald led us tenderly by the hand, let us meet the patients.

There's Frank “living on borrowed time,” he says... Loves lobsters, nice suits, first class flights.

A great driver - Stirling Moss once complimented him on his skill.

The secret of a happy marriage... Well, it's about care, tolerance, love.

Sally is at day hospice. She hates being called a housewife, she's a “domestic engineer”.

Human beings are like little volcanoes, says Sally, “It's all bubbling up inside. Something triggers it off and it all comes out.”

Sometimes people accept their fate and some people fight it right up until the end.

Christine has not told her friends she is ill. “It's my business, nobody else's,” she says.

She can't donate her organs because of the cancer, but she'll leave her eyes and her skin.

About death, some people are sensible, matter of fact. Others fight all the way, thrashing about says the nurse..

When someone's time to go comes, they always open a window – it's how the soul escapes.

Then they brush the person's hair and wash their body and talk to them... say Goodnight and God bless.

Tender and heartbreaking - This was an award winning documentary presented and produced by Cathy FitzGerald.

It does what the best radio does – paints a far better picture than you'd get with a television camera.

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