“This year, I am dedicating a colourful ribbon to my mum, Vera. I want to ensure that people, like mum, who need hospice care at home can get it when they need it – day or night.”
My mum, Vera, was diagnosed as terminally ill at age 85. I was planning on spending the summer with her, but unfortunately she went downhill very quickly and died in the spring of last year. It was all quite quick.
I only lived 50 yards away, so I was visiting her every day: cooking meals, doing her medicine, calling doctors, but it was clear that she could no longer live by herself. It was at that point that the health professionals, including those at Ashgate Hospicecare, got involved. We decided that she should move in with me. Ashgate made sure we had all the specialist equipment mum needed when she moved in.
Fortunately, I was allowed some time off work so I could care for her full-time. We used to go out for walks, but we couldn’t do that after she got much worse. I had to just look after her at home. At first, I was trying to get her to sit with me in the living room, but that didn’t last long until she was pretty much confined to the bed.
She didn’t want to do anything. It’s only a short walk to the bathroom but she was even struggling to do that. She had absolutely no strength, and she wasn’t eating. This was a really stressful time for me, as you can imagine, even with the extra help from the support workers.
During her final weeks, I pretty much devoted all of my time to looking after her. I’ve never cared for somebody who is dying before, and to watch what mum had to go through was really distressing. Mum needed looking after all the time. I wasn’t sleeping properly as I was getting up to check on mum every few hours throughout the night, just to make sure she was alright. As the weeks passed, I became more and more exhausted.
One of the Hospice at Home support workers started coming once a week for a whole afternoon. That was such a relief as it gave me the break I really needed. Things were getting so difficult by that point. Just being able to get out of the house for a couple of hours to do some shopping was a massive help. I don’t know what I would have done without that time to myself and I’m really grateful to Ashgate for that. They were really there for me during the hardest time.
Ashgate do an amazing job, but there are still hundreds of families a year in North Derbyshire who have to go without hospice care when they need it the most. The Hospice need more funding and more staff to grow their Hospice at Home team and to bring hospice care to more families in their homes. We would have really benefited from seeing friendly supports workers at any time – nights, weekends and those really difficult moments.
Mum didn’t want to go into a hospice or a home, so fortunately she was able to stay with me until the end. However, the care she needed was too much for me to deal with on my own. I don’t want anyone to go through this without the support of Ashgate Hospicecare and that is why I’m dedicating a ribbon to my wonderful mum, Vera, this year.
Not only will your ribbon honour your loved one, it will help somebody facing a tragedy of their own right now.