Abby's end-of-life story
30 March 2022
We’ve known Abby since early 2000 and supported her to choose a residential home in West Auckland. Abby stayed with the service for more than 20 happy years and developed close relationships with the people and carers in the tightknit community.
In 2020, Abby was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her doctors gently recommended that she and her whānau start planning for her end-of-life journey.
The people from the residential home recalls that Abby was well-known and well-respected for always being clear on what she wanted. “It was so important for all of us to continue respecting her autonomy, and that her end-of-life plan was Abby and family-centred,” says one of her support workers.
Abby wanted to spend her last days with her parents at their rest home in Nelson. Her parents were seriously unwell themselves and were also looking forward to some precious time together.
While her support workers prepared the logistics for the travel down to Nelson, they changed Abby’s living arrangements, based on her wishes, so she was surrounded and supported only by the people she knew well and felt comfortable with. Familiar faces and well-established relationships were key to ensuring that Abby felt calm and collected as her condition quickly deteriorated.
When Abby stayed in hospital, her carers whom she considered friends, knew exactly how to make the last leg of Abby’s journey happy. They sang songs to her, painted her nails, helped her choose food that would agree with her and brought in some furry pets for Abby to cuddle. They were with her as she decided on her last dress which gave off strong princess vibes. More importantly, someone was always with her, ready for quiet conversations which Abby loved.
And then, it was time for Abby to go home. Her residential home organised an ambulance to take her to Nelson so she can be with mum and dad again. A gathering of support workers, flatmates and friends from volunteer groups waited at the hospital car park to send her off. A much-loved support worker travelled with her and was right beside her until her last breath.
Abby passed away more than a year ago and on the anniversary of her passing, her support workers sent a note to Taikura, specifically to our connector case manager Jessie and our funding facilitator Moana. End-of-life planning can be hard but also special. Abby’s support workers said that Jessie and Moana worked swiftly to give certainty to Abby and explored options so her last wishes can come true.
“Each loss is unique and the need for support varies,” says Jessie. “There are people like Abby who are able to make decisions and cope with their situation. It also makes a difference when people are given enough information and support from those around them.
"Abby was lucky to have support workers who truly cared for her. Even if Taikura only worked behind the scenes, I feel honoured that we were able to support Abby to move forward in peace.”