ALTHOUGH his own home was 300 miles away, it was important to David Bate that he looked after his father in the Windermere house that he built himself.

Ken Bate was told he had two tumours, one in his oesophagus and one in his right lung, in August this year.

As soon as he was told, the 90-year-old made it clear that he did not want to receive chemotherapy and that it was his wish to stay in his own home.

"He said to me: 'Promise you won't send me into hospital'," David, from Hertfordshire, recalled. "We brought him home from hospital on August 18 with no care plan in place which was a bit odd really.

"After an appointment at the doctors on August 23, they asked: 'What does he want to do?' I said: 'Well, he wants to stay at home.' He (the doctor) said: 'Right, leave it with me.' Well, the next day everything happened - district nurses were in and by August 26 we had a hospital bed in his bedroom."

Before the care team arrived, 62-year-old David had been looking after his father around the clock, on his own.

"I bought a baby monitor so that I could hear him and he'd shout me in the middle of the night. It was hard. It was really difficult. How anybody can do that on their own 24/7, I don't know."

The Hospice at Home team got in touch with David and began offering their night sitting service as well as providing personal care.

Importantly, the nurses made sure that Ken was comfortable and that he had a smile on his face whenever possible.

"We've all got quite an amazing sense of humour and he (my father) said to me: 'I want you to keep making me laugh'," David said. "The nurses asked me what he's like and I said: 'He's got an amazing sense of humour.'

"As soon as they went to see him the banter started, which was good, and we managed to do that right near until the end."

David was so grateful to the hospice team that he sold all of his father's unframed paintings and donated the proceeds to St John's.

"Some people just get a phone call don't they? saying: 'Your dad's dead'. I was there when he died, holding his hand

"If I hadn't had help from the nurses I would have been a gibbering heap of beer-stained denims in the corner. I'd have lost my mind, I'd have gone crackers. "The stress was quite unbelievable really but then the stress turned round into it being a privilege to be able to do it."

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