Gina Tipping from Caterham and daughter, Nicole, share how St Catherine’s Hospice’s expert help allowed Gina to see Nicole get married, and continues to help them make the most of the time they have left together as mother and daughter.
“It was when my pain started to become unmanageable at home that the idea of coming to stay at St Catherine’s was first suggested. I’d been seeing a hospice nurse once a week but never imagined that one day, I might have to take that care from home to the hospice. When the nurse suggested moving me to St Catherine’s, my initial reaction was “no”. I didn’t want to come; I imagined the hospice signalling “the end”. In hindsight, I can see how wrong I was.
Being able to attend Nicole’s wedding was amazing and it’s something I wouldn’t have been able to do without the help of St Catherine’s Occupational Therapist who got me a wheelchair for the day, so I could leave the hospice. Not only that, but St Catherine’s team held a reception at the hospice the following day so I could join in the celebrations.
One of the main reasons I didn’t want to come to St Catherine’s was because I didn’t want to be away from my family, but the fact that my daughters can stay the night and be by my side at all times has made a huge difference. I had no idea before I came here that the hospice offered so much care and support to families, particularly with counselling. My other daughter has young children, and we didn’t know how to tell them about my illness and why I’m at the hospice. It’s a difficult conversation and we just didn’t know how to approach it. The Patient and Family Support Team have been really great, helping us find ways to talk to my grandchildren and help them to understand.
St Catherine’s is nothing like I imagined it, and it’s been the best decision to come here. I can’t thank the staff enough for their kindness, their support and for allowing me to be by Nicole’s side on her big day.”
“When Mum was first referred to St Catherine’s, I didn’t want her to go. I imagined the environment to be horrible, and I was adamant that it wasn’t the right place for Mum. It all felt too final. I’m so pleased we decided to bring Mum here after all. In a short space of time, Mum’s pain has significantly decreased and she’s able to live more normally.
When I started to realise Mum might not be well enough to attend my wedding, St Catherine’s Hospitality team approached me and suggested they hold a blessing or reception for my whole family at the hospice, meaning Mum could still be very much involved.
The fact the hospice team worked so hard to arrange a reception for us was amazing. They decorated the hospice coffee shop, I wore my wedding dress, Mum dressed in her Mother of the Bride outfit and my loved ones all came together. Despite initial worries, Mum was able to come to our actual wedding, which we were over the moon about. Having her there on my big day meant the world.
The help my family’s received from St Catherine’s is invaluable: the counselling services; the nursing support; even just someone to bring my sister and I a cup of tea and some toast in the mornings without us even asking; none of it goes unnoticed.
St Catherine’s has taken so much stress away from us as a family, it’s made a huge difference. ”