Amid the grief that Laurie Hughes is feeling over the loss of her father Allan Preston is an awareness that her family were luckier than many others right now.
Laurie, Cade, their children, other family and Preston's partner Hine all had the opportunity to spend precious time at Allen Preston's bedside as he faced his final hours at Waihī's Hetherington House.
Preston, 69, died on March 18 after five and a half years in the Waihi facility that has a rest home, hospital and secure dementia unit. Allan was in palliative care.
The family say they will be forever grateful for the love of staff and the fact that his death came just before lockdown.
On March 27, all family visits to facilities ceased as part of the lockdown.
However, where residents were receiving palliative care, visits would be considered on a case-by-case basis.
"For families that aren't able to visit at this time, I can only imagine how distressing it would be at that end stage," said Hughes.
The Government has since released new guidance on travelling for compassionate grounds, as some people may need to travel outside their local area to support a loved one in need during lockdown.
Hospice eastern Bay of Plenty chief executive Peter Bassett said the news was welcome and timely.
"It was something we were grappling with, and it coincided with us experiencing that precise situation. The order didn't give the option for people to travel during lockdown prior to today.
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"People want to see a loved one, they're moving between regions and each region has a different level of incidents of disease and their unknown health status presents a new risk factor for both patients, their families/whanau and hospice staff who visit.
"When lockdown happened, the people in your bubble would be the only people seeing the patient."
Hughes said she thought it might give comfort to others who have not been able to be at a bedside to know that residential care staff such as those caring for her dad had cared for him like family.
"You could see they were really connected with him. One staff member came in on her day off to see him because she didn't think he was still going to be there and she didn't want to miss saying goodbye. The care from each and every nurse was amazing.
"As bad as it was that he's gone, the timeframe that he went in, we were so lucky to have a funeral.
"There were restricted numbers and we sat 1m apart so it felt weird at the time but I'm so glad on reflection that we could do that for Dad.
"Not being able to have that closure and say their goodbyes...I feel so sad for those people who won't be getting the same right now."
In a letter to staff at Hetherington House, the family said the care and support of everyone from the administrative, kitchen and housekeeping staff to volunteers and nurses had left them "blown away".
"You gave me a moment with my dad I will never forget," she wrote. "I am blessed that I was holding dad's hand as he took his final breath, it was an honour."
Manager Olwyn Kunz said she had been advised families were still allowed to visit loved ones in palliative care during the lockdown and allowed the whole family to be with Preston at a time when other visitors were being limited to just one family member per resident.
Palliative care is not necessarily end-of-life care but is any treatment that is not designed to cure a person.
Under guidance released people would only get permission to travel in rare circumstances and travel will only be considered for approval if it enables someone to:
- support a minor who needs urgent care
- be with someone in a critical or terminal condition who has nobody else to support them, or
- support someone with exceptional health or care circumstances.
Requests for travel will be declined if the reason for travel is to support someone with Covid-19, enable foreign nationals to transit to international airports or visit someone in a hospital that is not allowing visitors.
To apply, email email@example.com with the subject "Application for domestic travel on compassionate grounds".