Mel was only 52 when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2017 and the following year she came under the care of Woking & Sam Beare Hospices. Her daughter Sophie shares her family’s story.
“Our first point of contact with the hospice was when Sarah, a Clinical Nurse Specialist, got in touch. A work colleague’s daughter was friends with Sarah, so it was nice to have that personal connection.
In March mum was admitted to hospital. We really wanted her into the hospice but there was a waiting list. Every day Sarah would call us to let us know that mum had been discussed in their daily meeting and that she would be able to go to the hospice as soon as bed became available. It was lovely to have Sarah, who would liaise with us and deal with the nitty gritty. It took the pressure away from our family so we could focus on having personal quality time instead of worrying about the clinical side.
When Mum was transferred to the hospice in May, Sarah also did some night shifts and cared for her there. All the staff were amazing and would bend over backwards for you. We could stay with mum for as long as we wanted, and they moved an extra bed into her room we could stay with her every night. We’re a big family so there was always lots of people around and Paul my nephew also had a sleep over at Nanny’s. My brother who works in London could come after work and didn’t need to worry about visiting hours.
Mum was in the hospice for several months so we became part of the furniture and everyone knew us, which was nice. Everyone down to the cleaners and kitchen staff took their time to talk to talk to us, not because they had to, but because they wanted to.
We managed to celebrate mum’s birthday and had a big party in the Wellbeing Centre. Mum loved roast lamb, so her sister, who lives nearby, cooked a roast lamb dinner and brought it in, and I made cakes for everyone, including the nurses. Even family members who hadn’t seen mum for a while came and it was such a special celebration.
Early July mum plateaued and was discharged into a nursing home. Although Sarah came to visit her, the care just wasn’t the same and she got worse, so it was a sigh of relief when she came back to the hospice. She even had her room back, which was great as mum didn’t deal with change well due to her brain tumor. It was like coming home, and the hospice took all the negativity away from the situation. We had pictures up, flowers, mum’s diffuser and we would watch the sing-along version of Mama Mia which mum loved. We got a special wheelchair so I could take mum to the local shops and for walks around the lake. Even when she was too poorly to go out, we could wheel the bed out onto the balcony and she was just so happy being outside under the blue sky and surrounded by trees. Everything was made to feel homely and it was never a ‘this is what we do’ but always the question ‘what would you like’.
Four weeks later Mum passed away on Paul’s birthday. She was hanging on because she always wanted to share everything with him, and by dying that day it was almost as if she didn’t want it to be a negative occasion. She wouldn’t have been well enough to join us for cake, so it was like she celebrated with us from above.
Everyone I talk to thinks that the hospice is funded by the Government, so now I tell them that we need to fundraise, so the care we all take for granted can be available for free to everyone who needs it. As a family we’ve been fundraising for the hospice since our Nan died there in 2001 and we are currently trying to raise enough money to have mum’s room named after her. If people before us did not fundraise, mum wouldn’t have been able to be looked after here, so it’s really important that we all support the hospice.”
Find out how you can support the hospice here.