Page last updated at 00:23 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 01:23 UK

'I'm so glad he died at home'

Campaigners have long been calling for families to be given more support to help their loved ones die at home.

Now the government in England is setting out how it plans to achieve this.

But why is it so important to spend your final days in familiar surroundings?

Paul and Maria Gleeson
Mr Gleeson wanted to die at home with his family around him

Ever since Paul Gleeson was diagnosed with cancer his wish was that he could die at home.

But in the final weeks of his life, his wife, Maria, thought it was not going to be possible.

The 50-year-old, from Henley-on-Thames, says: "I really didn't think I was going to cope. It was all getting too much. He need round the clock help.

"He was bed-ridden and physically I was exhausted."

Mrs Gleeson said her husband's consultant simply assumed he would die in a hospice.

But then a family friend told her about nurses from Marie Curie Cancer Care who could provide help to people in her situation.

After contacting the charity, she was given a nurse during the night to help her care for her 51-year-old husband in what turned out to be his final week in March following a year-long battle with colon and stomach cancer.

This should be a right, it is about dignity
Maria Gleeson

"She was wonderful. She just tended to his needs, making him a cup of tea, providing his personal care.

"It was at a point when I was beginning to struggle. Without that help I am not sure he would have been able to stay at home.

"But what upsets me is that you have to ask for these services. This should be a right, it is about dignity."

Mrs Gleeson said being at home was important for the whole family - she has three daughters aged between 10 and 16.

With Paul being at home he was able to help them with their music practice - and concerts in which they were taking part - right up to the end.

"He heard the music, instructed their practice.

"Home was where he felt comfortable. And it meant his children could see him for two minutes or two hours. Whatever they wanted.

"He and they would not have had that if he had been in hospital or hospice. We were with him right until the end and the children will always know that.

"I hope in future years when my children look back they will remember they had the last hug, last gasp with their dad.

"They will have fond memories they helped care for him.

"There is no doubt in my mind that it was the right thing to do - for him and for the family."

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