“St Clare were like a safety blanket for us all”, explained Colin, whose Mum, Barbara spent her last weeks on the St Clare Inpatient Unit with her family around her.
“Everyone thinks their Mum is the best,” said Colin, “but my Mum, Barbara, was. She was kind, gentle, and elegant. She was real old school. When I gave the printers a photo of her for the order of service at her funeral, they couldn’t believe how glamourous she was. Like a sixties film star. She wouldn’t even open the door to the postman without her hair and makeup on, and she lived for her boys; me and my two brothers.”
In the last couple of years, the lives of the family have been tinged with sadness, when Colin’s brother Paul died of Covid age just 59 in the first wave during 2020 and his Dad, Ron, died of a heart attack on Mother’s day 2022. Barbara and her husband had been together 70 years, since she was 15, and they’d been married 68 years.
“We first noticed something was wrong when Mum started to fall. She lived in a three-story town house, and was completely independent although she was 85. She had an MRI and that is when we were horrified to discover she had a brain tumour. At that point we decided to bring her to live with us but she deteriorated quite rapidly and the District Nurse, who was great, referred us to St Clare Hospice.”
“As soon as nurse Nicky arrived from St Clare, it was like having an angel on your shoulder. She knew exactly what to do and suddenly all your problems weren’t problems anymore. She and the Hospice at Home team were amazing. They could see that Mum was going downhill, and as it was coming up to Christmas, they recommended we got Mum into the hospice as quickly as possible. The ambulance arrived on 23rd December to take Mum to the Inpatient Unit and we didn’t know what to expect when we got there. It was nothing like we thought it might be. It was like a welcoming committee, “Hello Colin, Hello Barbara”.
Colin knew that his Mum would never want to know her diagnosis, the decision the family made was that she would be told if she asked. She never did. She spent her last weeks in the comfort of the hospice, with expert care, tailored to her needs.
“I sometimes think that if Mum had known she was dying we would have had different conversations”, said Colin, “but her knowing would not have benefitted her at all. When she couldn’t speak she squeezed my hand, and in the end although I didn’t want her to leave us, she was ready to go.”
“St Clare was the absolute opposite of everything you thought it might be. It was uplifting and I can’t thank Nicky, the Hospice at Home team and the team on the Inpatient Unit enough. You made us feel confident Mum would be looked after and out of pain.”