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“Nurses made sure Mum saw the sky and flowers one final time”

Claire’s Mum Jean was at our hospice during the coronavirus pandemic. Here Claire shares more about her family’s experience of our care.

“My Mum, Jean, wasn’t a big one for hugs and kisses but I always knew she loved me

She was always supporting me, always standing up for me and I knew she always had my back. She used to tell me that Mums never stop worrying!

When Mum was first diagnosed with lung cancer, she went into remission but in 2019 her cancer came back – this time it spread to her spine and her brain.

Dad dealt with a lot of Mum’s illness himself

He cared for her at home as she was most comfortable there.

Towards the end as Mum became more unwell my Dad and I decided that we needed some extra help and that’s when St Catherine’s Hospice stepped in.

Mum was at the hospice in May 2020 for a week

I knew nothing about the hospice before Mum went there and I had a real fear of it. I thought it would be a place filled with death, and that it would be sterile and unfriendly, but it was none of those things

Everything surprised me

Everyone was so welcoming and friendly and Mum had a room with a bed by the window so she could look out onto the hospice gardens. That was really nice as she loved flowers.

Mum was at the hospice during the coronavirus pandemic so Dad and I couldn’t always visit together – one of us would visit in the morning, one in the afternoon. I went in every day apart from one when I was too upset as I knew it was getting near to Mum going. Deep down, I knew when she went into St Catherine’s she wasn’t going to come home again.

I always felt safe at the hospice, but I didn’t like wearing the masks. I was worried Mum didn’t know who we were and I didn’t want her to be frightened, but it was something that was necessary.

The hospice doctor told us they could keep Mum comfortable

As Mum became less well, we spoke to one of the hospice doctors as they thought she had an infection. We didn’t want her to go to hospital, where we wouldn’t have been able to visit her, so the hospice said they could keep her comfortable.

I wanted her to see the sky and the flowers one last time

One day Dad was with Mum at the hospice and he sent me a lovely picture of her reading her newspaper in the hospice garden.

The day before she passed away I asked Dad to ask the nurses to take Mum into the garden in her bed. I wanted her to see the blue sky and garden flowers one final time. Dad sent me a video across – the nurses were with Mum outside making her comfortable. They were so accommodating. There were no questions, they just took her out into the garden like I’d requested. It was so special to me that we were able to do that for my Mum. It really helped me to know that she was able to get outside. I’ll be forever grateful to St Catherine’s as that wouldn’t have been possible if she was at home

The hospice took a lot of stress away from us

We knew Mum was being well looked after so all Dad and I had to do was concentrate on visiting her and talking to her.

Dad didn’t need to worry about everyday chores, like washing, ironing and making Mum’s dinner, and that allowed him to do the things that mattered to Mum, like sit and paint her nails

It gave Dad and I chance to talk about our loved ones too, but as Mum was passing away, if she heard us, I think she’d have laughed as Dad was talking to me about shares – She’d have said that was just like him!

When Mum passed, we were taken to the family room to grieve in private and then when we were ready we went back out to say goodbye to Mum one last time.

The hospice supported us afterwards

Dad had counselling which he found useful and he’s now thinking of volunteering with the hospice in the future.

And I’ve gone from a fear of the hospice to being able to reassure others that there’s nothing to worry about if you or someone you love needs to come here. It’s a beautiful, calm place – there’s so many wonderful words I could use!

People are so well looked after and it’s not like a hospital. It has a lovely feel, more like a hotel, and it doesn’t feel like people are going to the hospice to die.

Without donations St Catherine’s wouldn’t be as good as it is

Every charity needs funding but St Catherine’s is such a worthwhile cause to donate to. People might think their donation won’t do a lot, but it makes such a difference to families like mine who need the hospice.”

If you would like to read more people’s experiences of hospice care please click here or to make a donation so we can help more families in future please click here or call 01293 447361.

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