Robin Gain was 60 and had just retired from General Practice in 1993 when he volunteered as the sole GP at the Peace Hospice in Watford.
He had joined the campaign for a Hospice serving Watford and its environs in the 1980s. Earlier, GPs had been able to refer local people to the Hospice at Michael Sobell House at Mount Vernon hospital, but when the rules were changed by the Government, patients could be referred only to the Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted.
“This was clearly not satisfactory, since Watford was the biggest conurbation in the area”, said Dr Gain. “So, after a great deal of angst and several arguments with official government bodies, we eventually started a Day Centre in Watford”.
Robin Gain brought comprehensive medical experience to his new role, having worked as a Junior Surgeon during National Service in Germany and served as a Watford GP for 30 years, during which he had helped at the Peace Memorial Hospital, which was to become the Hospice’s home. In 1998, with the Hospice developing at a rapid pace, Dr Gain succeeded Gill Hollander as Chair of the Trust, a post he held for five years until he stood down at the age of 70.
The building of the Inpatient Unit made it possible to provide more services, including counselling for patients and their families. Robin Gain said that while as a medical student it was taboo to tell a patient he or she was soon going to die, that thinking had changed completely, because many people wanted to put their affairs in order and prepare for death. And among the many changes over the years, there was now a greater emphasis on patients remaining with their families whenever possible and being cared for by Hospice at Home nurses.
He reflected that one of the first things you would notice about the Hospice was how cheerful people were: “Most people accept their situation and will talk about it openly and that’s largely down to the way the staff help people to come to terms with dying”.
At the end of a long career during which he had experienced significant progress in many medical areas, Dr Gain derived great satisfaction from working with “an able and very happy team” at the Peace, each doing “an excellent job”.