In March, 2008, Sue Gracey was hired at the newly built McNally House Hospice, in Grimsby as a Personal Support Worker (PSW). Sue was part of the team that welcomed the first resident to McNally on April 7, 2008.
Sue has never regretted her decision to work at McNally House. As she tells her story, one can easily see her compassion and dedication to caring for those at end of life. This is the driving force in her vocation at McNally. In her words, “You live until you die. It only takes a second to die, but, you live up until then.”
These words echo in some of her favourite memories from McNally House. The wedding of a resident, with cake, flowers, and the bride wearing silk pajamas. A sixtieth wedding anniversary dinner, complete with china and music. A resident whose room was filled with flowers and bird-songs so she could experience one more spring. A resident who wished to have one more Christmas, her room totally decorated. Sue was involved in creating all these treasured moments.
The most poignant memory Sue shares, is that of a young mother, mourning the fact that her baby would never know her. Sue helped put together a scrapbook of pictures, notes, and small articles that would be memories of Mom for her child.
COVID-19 has been a challenge for those working in hospice care. Sue tells us how difficult it was when volunteers could not serve at McNally House. Staff had to take over their duties, including cooking, cleaning, maintenance and reception. Finding extra time for resident support and conversation became especially difficult. Visitor restrictions meant that some residents had little in-person interaction with their families. Staff stepped up to fill the void. Sue also talked freely about how supportive the staff is for each other, especially in this time of COVID-19. “The people I work with are friends. We support each other through emotional ups and downs.”
Sue feels honoured to have met the people she has encountered at McNally House. She believes that if she and others working there can “make it a little easier, then, we have done well”.
In the early days of the Pandemic, local artist Adrienne Brown stopped by the hospice and was greeted by Sue, she snapped a picture and went home and sketched “Sue’s Smile” (pictured). “Even a pandemic could not diminish her positive, caring personality.” said Adrienne.