Gravesend couple Trevor and Yvonne Gilchrist were always inseparable.
Even on Trevor’s long, solitary nights working as a security guard, he’d have a constant companion. Yvonne, calling him, asking how he was doing.
“She’d worry about me,” Trevor smiles, recalling the memories fondly. “One night, when I was working late, I found it odd that she hadn’t called me. Then, headlights showed up outside the building I was stationed at – it was Yvonne! It was then I realised she’d been trying to call me all night,” he chuckles. “I didn’t know it, but my phone was on silent!”
This sort of anecdote is typical of the two’s relationship. Married for 37 years – ever since Yvonne wandered into the hotel Trevor worked in 1985, then sent him her phone number in a letter days later – they had the kind of comfort and chemistry only the longest partnerships can claim. They were always joking – Trevor, in particular, is fond of the practical variety – and always up and about. Active, excited, and on the go.
But in September 2021, tragedy struck.
Yvonne was diagnosed with cancer of the vulva. The prognosis was poor. Soon after, she had a stroke, and her condition – along with haemorrhaging, and the pain it wrought on her body – meant she was in and out of Darent Valley Hospital.
Trevor stopped working to help care for Yvonne full time, from home. He moved his bed downstairs to sleep next to her, and helped bathe and dress her.
Trevor loved Yvonne more than anything in the world. But he’s 73, and a security guard – not a carer – by trade. So when ellenor’s Adult Hospice at Home Care team stepped in to provide palliative care for Yvonne – from the Gilchrists’ own home – it meant the world.
The bond that Senior Clinical Nurse Specialist Linda, Dani, and “the two Tinas” (as Trevor affectionately calls them) formed with Yvonne was instant and intense. Soon, the ellenor quartet were part of the fixtures and fittings of Trevor and Yvonne’s Gravesend home.
They helped Yvonne manage the excruciating pain of her condition – controlling her symptoms to help restore some of her quality of life. And because Trevor, unwilling to leave his wife for extended periods, didn’t want to go out to pick up her prescriptions, ellenor’s team did. So they didn’t only administer these strong pain-killing medications – such as morphine – but procure them, too.
Linda’s team also supported Trevor. With empathy and compassion, they helped him process the negative emotions – grief, guilt, worry, fear – and understand his role in Yvonne’s care.
“They’d come and talk to her,” says Trevor, “to make sure she was alright – to make sure I was alright. Anything we needed, Linda would ring up and get it.”
But as spring gave way to summer and the air began to get warmer, Yvonne’s condition deteriorated. And, after many conversations – and the full consent of both Yvonne and Trevor – the decision was made to move her to ellenor’s inpatient unit (IPU) in nearby Northfleet.