BLOG: The St Catherine’s experience
In a special blog series this Hospice Care Week, 37-year-old Victoria Hornby talks about her experience of St Catherine’s, where her beloved mum Elaine, 55-years-old, spent her final weeks. Here, she talks about how the hospice became a home from home, and how the personal touches made all the difference at such a difficult time.
At first I didn’t really know what to expect from St Catherine’s. I didn’t appreciate what it would actually be like and how it would make so much difference to our lives until we experienced it ourselves.
The main focus of the hospice is to provide quality of life; it’s not just about symptoms and medication and pain management – they do take care of that side of things, but they also understand that the small details mean so much as well. They help people to do the things that they enjoy, with the people who mean the most to them.
St Catherine’s created a home-like place where I could stay with Mum 24/7, so we could do simple things like watch TV and enjoy meals together, knowing that she was also receiving the best support possible. The staff were there for me as well, offering me emotional support.
Meal times were always a treat as the food was amazing. They would do fish and chip Fridays, and we could order a Chinese takeaway on a Saturday and just watch The Chase and Doctor Foster together in a peaceful environment, just me and my Mum, away from the hustle and bustle of the hospital. My mum loved her garden-view room too, where she could see the stunning grounds and we could look out at the lights at night.
St Catherine’s became my mum’s home because after her amputation she couldn’t return to her own home nor mine, due to them not being deemed suitable for a wheelchair. She was trying to deal with the fact she had just lost a limb and then finding out she was at end of life was just soul destroying and all we had was each other. I made my mum as comfortable as possible by having her creature comforts brought in – we filled her room with photos and we always looked forward to ‘Flower Friday’ when volunteers would bring in beautiful arrangements of flowers which had been donated to the hospice. Mum’s favourites were daffodils and yellow roses.
She also adored my boxer dog Mia, and the hospice even allowed her to come in and visit which Mum was over the moon about. That was a really heartfelt and emotional moment.
They arranged for her to have a bubble bath which she loved. It sounds so simple; but washing her hair, having it blow dried and styled, it’s those little things that you take for granted under normal circumstances but that really put a smile on my mum’s face. It just made her feel human again. At such a heart-breaking and horrific time, it’s those personal details and touches which helped us to feel like we weren’t just in this tunnel where there was only darkness at the end of it.
I can’t thank people who fundraise and donate enough. Without those amazing supporters who raise funds or donate money, or give their time as volunteers, St Catherine’s wouldn’t be here, and me and my mum wouldn’t had have those special experiences together which I can now look back on and cherish forever.
In her next blog, Victoria talks about the precious memories created at the hospice in her mum’s final days.
Victoria is sharing her experience this Hospice Care Week to help us raise awareness about what hospices stand for, what they’re really like, and the importance of our communities supporting independent local charities like St Catherine’s. If you would like to give a monthly donation from as little as £3 to help us be there for families like Victoria’s now and in the future, please click here.