Ron Smith knows the value of Nelson Tasman Hospice all too well.
The 86-year-old has been a volunteer – helping to deliver beds to patients in their own homes.
“I was talked into it by a friend of mine,” Ron says. “Originally we were called the ‘bed men’ but I christened us the ‘bedologists’. I quite liked that.”
He says the job saw all manner of people welcome him into their lives at their most vulnerable.
“I think it gave them a bit of peace of mind.”
Ron says he was nervous initially but soon found that he knew many of the people he was delivering beds to.
At first he thought it might not be a good idea but realised that it was beneficial to those he was helping to know there was someone familiar around them.
“I used to spend a little extra time with them to just talk.”
Ron did the job for about eight years until his eyesight started to fail him. But more recently he has seen the work that hospice nurses do, up close.
His wife Jill died in December and she was visited by nurses once a week to check on how she was doing.
Now, Ron himself has also been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“It’s put me at the other end of the scale, on the receiving end,” he says.
And he is grateful for the help he gets.
“Their work is hidden until you need their help.”
Nelson Tasman Hospice is embarking on its most ambitious project in its 30-year history – a new $11.5 million hospice at Suffolk Rd. It is due to be completed by the end of 2018 but is fundraising to help reach that goal.
Ron hopes the new project to have the hospice under one roof will ensure that people like himself continue to have its support.
To donate visit www.nelsonhospice.org.nz/donate.