Grateful Patient: The Little family, Music Therapy / Rehabilitation / PalliativeBill Little

Bill Little can’t say enough good things about the caring, knowledgeable staff who looked after his wife Irene, during the last several months of her life.

Even though he and his daughter-in-law Janice were focused on Irene’s health and well-being, they noticed the commitment of all the staff to their jobs and to the care and comfort of their patients.

“The caregivers at the hospital were fantastic. They did everything they could do,” said Bill. “And it didn’t matter what area of the hospital Irene was in, they were all so good to her.”

Irene Little became a patient of the Brant Community Healthcare System (BCHS) when she was admitted to The Brantford General in late 2013 after having surgery at another hospital to remove a brain tumour. While the surgery went well, there were post-operative complications that left her with compromised motor function and speech. She could comprehend everything that was going on around her, but didn’t speak often.

That didn’t stop her from developing relationships with her caregivers, though.

“Even the cleaning staff on the seventh floor would say, ‘Hello, Bill. How are you?’ and ‘Irene, I’m cleaning under your bed’,” said Janice.

After a follow-up surgery off-site, Irene spent several months at a brain injury rehabilitation centre trying to recover her brain function. In February 2015, she was moved back to The Brantford General where she continued to receive regular rehabilitation therapy.

Even when Bill or Janice hadn’t yet arrived to be with Irene on any given day, staff would wheel her to the television area, where she enjoyed the mental stimulation and company of others.

“They gave as much care as they could, and many times, we saw how they went out of their way to show extra kindness to her,” said Bill.

It was during this time that Irene met Tomoko, the music therapist at The Brantford General. Tomoko would visit Irene once a week to play for her, sharing the benefits of music therapy.

Through a variety of musical activities such as singing, playing instruments, listening and creating songs, patients can reflect on their issues and express their feelings and thoughts. Musical interactions with a therapist convey a sense of being understood, connected and accepted. The music therapy program is completely supported by donor dollars and has helped thousands of patients and their loved ones since it started in 2007.

It made a difference for Irene. Bill said that one day Tomoko came to play and asked Irene if she enjoyed it. Although she didn’t speak, Irene smiled.

In early May 2015, Irene was moved to palliative care.

“Even when Irene was not really with us, Tomoko would come in and ask if we wanted her to play,” said Janice. “Bill said yes, even though Irene couldn’t respond.”

Bill identified one of Irene’s personal support worker’s, Ann Campbell, who also really went above and beyond for all of them. “For the whole time that Irene was in palliative care, when Ann was on duty, she would come in and see if Irene had everything she needed and she would ask if she could get anything for me,” said Bill.

He said the staff was so caring and made them feel comfortable during the many months they spent in the hospital. Janice noted that there were so many small ways that the unit and the staff made them feel supported.

“It’s all those little things, when you’re stressed, like the family supports that are available in the sitting room,” she said.

Irene passed away early in the morning of May 16, 2015 in the BCHS Palliative Care unit, with Bill by her side.

The equipment supported by donor dollars isn’t all ‘nice to have’—it is critical, much-needed medical equipment required to perform daily diagnostics and care for patients.

As Bill has learned first-hand, when crisis or illness impacts you or a loved one, the Brant Community Healthcare System is here to offer you exceptional healthcare in your time of need.

Your involvement, through a donation of any size, will allow the BCHS Foundation to purchase patient equipment not funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, provide essential resources to maintain the exceptional level of compassionate patient care, and invest in new and innovative technology.

To make a donation, click here or call 519-751-5510.

This holiday season, give a gift and be a part of the Brant Community Healthcare System Foundation’s 12 Days of Giving Campaign.

Photo above: Bill Little & daughter-in-law Janice