FATIGUED from caring for her husband, it was the Hospice at Home night sitters that allowed Phyllis Benson to get some much-needed rest.

Married for almost 50 years, Phyllis' husband, Tony, suffered with Parkinson's disease for 16 years.

For just under a year the night sitters came to stay with Mr Benson once or twice a week. During the last two weeks of his life, Mr Benson was also cared for in the day by the Hospice Angels.

"I used to do it all myself," Mrs Bensons said. "Day and night. But I just couldn't do it in the end.

"The nurses would ring up before they came to say who was coming, especially on dark nights. They took over from my duties really, made sure he was okay, chatted to him."

A part-time gamekeeper during the majority of the year and a keen fisherman, it was losing his ability to enjoy the outdoors that Mr Benson found particularly difficult.

"He absolutely loved it - he'd do fishing in summer and was a gamekeeper in the autumn, winter and spring. That was his life," said Mrs Benson.

"That was the worst thing about it - but saying that, he didn't complain. He just got on with it in his own unique way."

Although he was born in Barrow, Mr Benson moved to Kendal with Phyllis when they got married.

"The last year it was a really hard slog because I'd promised him I would keep him at home - that's where he wanted to die," Mrs Benson said. "The doctor who came was absolutely gobsmacked that I was still looking after him at home."

Mrs Benson, 70, put her husband first at all times. It was thanks to the night sitters that she was able to sustain that level of care for her husband.

"It was imperative that I got a little bit of sleep because I was just getting so worn out and fatigued," she said. "Even when the floods were on last December, they still managed to get here somehow. Only once did they have to turn back when they got to Kendal and couldn't get any further.

"I couldn't thank them enough. Any of them - the district nurses, the Marie Curie or the Hospice at Home nurses."

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If you or your family has been helped by a Hospice at Home nurse and would like to share your story, please contact Sara Royle on 01539 790260 or email sara.royle@nqnw.co.uk