Close to people | Stories from Bethel

"I feel in good hands here"

A breeze of cool air flows through the tilted window and makes the light curtains dance. Bright marigolds in the vase in front of the panes are reminiscent of sunny times. Elke Mac Kinnon has snuggled up in her warm bed in the Bethel hospice "Haus Zuversicht" and is dreaming of springtime in Madeira. She flicks through a photo album and points to a picture. Everything is blue: the sky, the sea and small colourful ships in the harbour of the Portuguese island. "All was still right with the world," says the 68-year-old. Then her eyes went black. She had to go to hospital in the middle of her holiday. She returned home with heavy baggage: a diagnosis of metastasised lung cancer.

Playing pinball with the grandchildren

"But I haven't walked with my head under my arm since then!" says Elke Mac Kinnon. She laughs and nods almost defiantly. She has declared war on cancer with countless chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions. Even now, as a guest at Bethel's "Haus Zuversicht", an inpatient hospice for seriously and terminally ill people, she retains her courage to face life - even though she will soon have to die. Because there are still good days. On those days, she sits in the kitchen, where it smells of coffee and cake. Or bacon and scrambled eggs - if that's what a guest wants for dinner. Elke Mac Kinnon also enjoys looking out into the garden from the terrace. Friends and family often come to visit. She plays pinochle with her granddaughters and they have painted her grandma's nails. "I've had visitors almost every day. That's good!" says the seriously ill woman.

The place in the Bethel hospice is like winning the lottery for her. "It's like a shared flat here, only with nursing care and medication. Not like in hospital, where the staff are always in a hurry. Here, everyone takes their time - even at night. I feel like I'm in good hands," says Elke Mac Kinnon. It is very important to her that someone is always there. Someone who can help quickly if the breathlessness becomes too severe, someone who can administer morphine to ease the tightness. "I've had bad phases where I thought I was going to suffocate. But the medication has eased the situation," she says with relief.

She is not afraid of death. She is not struggling with leaving this world. There is also a vague hope of meeting her beloved deceased husband again. The great Scot whose photos hang on the wall. But Elke Mac Kinnon does not want to suffer. The Bethel staff and doctors who come to the hospice are all experienced in providing palliative care for people. They do everything they can to alleviate anxiety and pain as much as possible. That is very reassuring.

"It's like a shared flat here, only with care and medication. Everyone takes their time here - even at night."
Elke Mac Kinnon

Elke Mac Kinnon lived in her home for as long as she could. "That was my nest," she says. Her son and daughter-in-law looked after her for a whole year. "Everyone was so kind and helpful to me. But in the end? No, they couldn't do it anymore!" she says - without hesitation. The worst thing was the stairs. She didn't have the strength to climb them. Her leg shimmers green and blue from her last fall in her own home.

In the hospice, she has one of the few rooms with a bathroom. She can reach all the communal areas with her walking frame. But this is only possible on the ground floor of the old villa. A new building will soon offer all guests the best conditions. Relatives will then also find it easier to spend the night in the light-flooded new house in Bethel.

Sleep? Simply fall asleep. That would suit Elke Mac Kinnon just fine. But until then, she wants to live. Meet people. Cuddle the dog at the hospice. Listen to music. "You're so spoilt here," she says gratefully. Her husband in heaven will have to wait a little longer for her.

Elke Mac Kinnon passed away on 11 November 2022.

Text: Heike Lepkojis | Photo: Thomas Richter

This story simply told

Elke Mac Kinnon likes to laugh. She listens to music. She often receives visits from her family. She lives in the hospice in Bethel. People who will not live much longer are cared for there. The people are very ill. The hospice has painkillers. And everyone helps if you are afraid. No one is left alone.

Would you like to find out more?


Hospice Haus Zuversicht
Bethelweg 25
33617 Bielefeld

0521 144 5180

To the website of the facility

Offers & services

Haus Zuversicht provides support and care for seriously ill people in the last phase of their lives. They have the opportunity to organise this time according to their own wishes. In ten spacious single rooms, light-coloured wooden furniture, flowers and pictures create a private atmosphere. Relatives and friends have the opportunity to stay overnight in the inpatient hospice. Meetings can take place in the large kitchen and living room.

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