BLOG: St Catherine’s brought Mum and our family so much peace
This Hospice Care Week, Georgie Rainford has written a blog to shine the light on the many ways St Catherine’s helped her family at an incredibly difficult time, and shares how the small touches meant so much to her and her siblings, Kirsteen and Gavin.
St Catherine’s has been part of our family for the past 20 years, having looked after Grandma Vera, then Grandad Frank in 2019 and most recently our Mum at the start of this year.
Grandad started fundraising for St Catherine’s after Grandma passed away. Grandma did everything before that, cooking, cleaning, you name it… but Grandad was determined to pick it all up and he really took it in his stride. He became as good at baking scones as Grandma always was, even though he hated butter with a passion!
Each week, Frank headed down to his local boules club and sold cups of tea and coffee, along with his bakes, to raise money for the hospice – he did this for years. The lovely hospice staff went to see Grandad in his home to write a story about him and take his photo for the newspaper! He was really proud and kept the cut-out newspaper article next to a photo of his lovely wife until the grand old age of 92.
Grandad started his battle with cancer quite a long time ago, he always won the fight along the way and kept a big beaming smile across his face. He’d had lots of operations but at 90 he was still as fit as a fiddle – even using an exercise bike at home when his health wasn’t what he was used to.
One of our favourite things was how he shouted “yoohoo” as you walked into his house, so much so, his Great Granddaughter Evie (who was only 4 at the time) used to shout it when she walked through the door too.
At 92, Grandad took a turn for the worse. He kept on fighting but wanted to stay at home. Mum looked after him for quite a while, and she couldn’t have managed that without the help and care provided from the team at St Catherine’s. There was one particularly amazing nurse who came to see Grandad – both Mum and Grandad thought the world of him. The care of St Catherine’s ensured Grandad was comfortable and calm until the end.
At the end of 2021, Mum became quite poorly. The diagnosis stage was hard for us to deal with, and we were told at the hospital that Mum was terminally ill. Things happened really quickly. With Covid restrictions at the hospital and our familiarity with the care provided by St Catherine’s, Mum was sure of her decision to be moved to the hospice as soon as possible.
After hearing Mum sing the praises of St Catherine’s for years, we knew she would receive the expert end-of-life care she needed. The hospice – whilst needing to adhere to Covid restrictions – was able to manage visiting, allowing us to spend 7 hours a day with Mum.
She was comfortable, with a private room, better pain management and her individual needs were taken care of. Our first visits to the hospice were quite overwhelming, but the volunteers on reception were really welcoming and offered a friendly face when you weren’t quite sure how to act.
We noticed how St Catherine’s took care of the little things that really mean a lot, from re-positioning the bed so Mum could see the Christmas lights outside her gorgeous bay window, or taking the time to check that we were all okay when we arrived.
We look back fondly on the days we spent at the hospice with Mum. We would bring in afternoon tea – with the prawn sandwiches from Marks & Spencer’s she loved so much – and we’d natter away and give her manicures. We looked after Mum the best we could, like she had always looked after us.
We lost Mum in the first week of 2022, it’s a bit blurry. The nurses came in to see us, to comfort us and let us know we could stay for as long as we needed. They handed us all a little knitted red heart, which I carry around with me every day. It really is the little things that make the biggest difference when it comes to St Catherine’s.
After January, we were hit with a lot of firsts: birthdays, anniversaries, and Mother’s Day. We wanted to give back to the hospice, just like Grandad had, and make Mum proud.
For Mother’s Day, Kirsteen – who has her own candle business, Cicely & May – created a special ‘Mama’ candle in Mum’s favourite scent, floral, and donated 10% of the proceeds to St Catherine’s, in memory of our lovely Mum. She said: “The staff at St Catherine’s were so kind to our Mum and us during Mum’s time there.
“I’d always heard lovely things about St Catherine’s, and to actually experience it during such a hard time was so comforting. Knowing Mum was well looked after gave her and our family peace of mind.
“It never felt like anything was too much trouble for the staff, and we’ll always be thankful to know that for the last weeks of her life, she was surrounded by people who cared for her so well. Mum felt safe and well looked after at St Catherine’s and that brought her so much peace.”
We also took part in the Moonlight and Memories Walk with St Catherine’s, and raised more than £1,500 with match-funding from my work. Gavin raised over £1,700 by doing 5k a day for 64 days (mum’s age) in memory of Mum too.
The hospice wouldn’t be able to provide the amazing care they do without fundraising and donations from supporters. The charity must raise £4.9m of their £6.7m running costs – they wouldn’t be able to help people like us without the generosity and support of those who contribute.
We’re really grateful for the peace the hospice brought Mum. They made sure we could focus on enjoying the time we had together instead of worrying and trying to care for her ourselves. We want to say a huge thank you to every single volunteer, member of staff and fundraiser.
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