Final moments now able to be cherished

Zaria Sleith (third, left) returns to ward six to show (l-r) care support worker Moira Burgon, staff nurse Morag Weir, staff nurse Kevin Scullion, coordinator for carers Lorraine Finnigan and care support worker Margaret Murphy a copy of Please Don't Forget
Zaria Sleith (third, left) returns to ward six to show (l-r) care support worker Moira Burgon, staff nurse Morag Weir, staff nurse Kevin Scullion, coordinator for carers Lorraine Finnigan and care support worker Margaret Murphy a copy of Please Don't Forget

A Holytown woman has praised a new initiative that lets families stay with patients who have dementia during their final precious hours.

Zaria Sleith has thanked NHS Lanarkshire staff for making sure she was able to visit her granddad, Jimmy Sleith, round the clock in the days before he passed away.

One of Zaria Sleiths black and white images of her grandfather Jimmy in hospital

One of Zaria Sleiths black and white images of her grandfather Jimmy in hospital

Zaria was one of the first to benefit from Wishaw General Hospital’s participation in John’s Campaign, which was launched after the death of Dr John Gerrard in 2014 by his daughter Nicci and her friend, Julia Jones, whose mother has Alzheimer’s.

She said: “Having John’s Campaign at the hospital was so important to me.

“My Papa was receiving end-of-life care on ward six and the staff couldn’t have been more understanding, they all got to know who I was and I was able to be there outside regular visiting hours.

“That meant I was there the day before my papa lost his ability to speak, allowing us a final conversation. I was even able to go in at mealtimes, meaning I was there to give him his last ever ice-cream – a favourite treat.

“He loved cuddles and we would snuggle up in bed for a sleep. I’d hear the nurses look in and say ‘Just leave them’. Moments like that meant a lot.”

Jimmy, from Carfin, a well-travelled Royal Navy man, who was married to the late Betty (Ross), passed away in February at the age of 88.

Zaria said: “I was there to hold him at the end, which was very important to me.

“I think John’s Campaign is a fantastic idea as it gives great comfort to patients and their families and carers that they can be close to each other as much as possible during a hospital stay.”

Photography student Zaria has produced a book of touching black and white images documenting her grandfather’s experiences of dementia,

Her book of photos, entitled Please Don’t Forget, was a project for her photography HND course at New College Lanarkshire’s Motherwell campus.

She said: “It documents about 18 weeks in my Papa’s life coping with dementia, in and out of hospital.

“If even one person reads it and it makes a difference to their understanding of dementia, it will have been well worth it and I hope to set up a website to make it available for people to buy.”