Painting fingernails and enjoying breakfast together in the mornings
From painting fingernails to enjoying breakfast together in the mornings – the family of Sheila Goulding say they will be forever grateful to St Catherine’s Hospice for enabling them to spend quality time with their beloved Mum and Grandma in her final days.
Here, Sheila’s daughter Sharon Worden talks about how the compassionate nurses looked after the whole family and made a lasting impression at such a poignant time in their lives.
“St Catherine’s is such a welcoming place, and we could surround Mum with familiar things from home like photos of the family and cuddly toys, and she could play games on her iPad which she always enjoyed,” Sharon says.
“Her grandchildren did drawings for the walls, and whereas she’d been so agitated when she was in hospital beforehand, you could just see Mum start to settle and become happy again, which was comforting for all of us.
“One day when my brother Kevin was visiting from Cheshire, the nursing assistant Kirsty came in with a big box and said ‘let’s have a pamper day!’ The box was full of nail polish and other bits, and she handed it to Kevin and said ‘right Kevin, why don’t you paint your Mum’s fingernails, I’ll mark you out of 10.’
“He’d never done anything like that before, and I thought it was absolutely fantastic! We would never have thought to do something like that, and it gave Kevin a lovely, lasting memory of doing something special with his mum.
“Sometimes it’s small things which make a big difference, like when family stay overnight, they’ll give you toast in the morning, and I sometimes had soup and sandwiches for dinner. It’s just one less thing to worry about when you’re in that situation.”
Mum-of-three Sheila, from Ribbleton, started her career in the laundry department at Preston infirmary; she then worked as a cleaner at Sharoe Green at Royal Preston Hospital (RPH) and went on to become a radiographer’s assistant. She volunteered on reception at RPH until she was aged 90.
She was diagnosed with vulvar cancer earlier this year, and was initially referred to the St Catherine’s Clinical Nurse Specialists, who provide complex symptom management in people’s own homes and care homes.
“When they then spoke to us about Mum going to the hospice, I cried with relief,” Sharon says. “I just thought, ‘at last, she’s not going to be in any more pain’. They took so much care to constantly make gradual tweaks to her medication, to make sure she wasn’t in pain but to also limit the side effects so she could still experience a good quality of life.
“Everything is so personalised, and if there was ever a time when Mum felt worried, they’d make sure that two or three nurses were with her, to spend time reassuring her while providing care. Or they’d ask me if I’d like to be there or help, which I hadn’t even realised was an option.
“I’d been caring for Mum at home, so when they asked if I wanted to be involved, I was really touched. It can be tiring caring for someone so it was a relief to know that I didn’t need to worry about that, but I really appreciated being asked, and it meant a lot just to be able to hold her hand to comfort her.”
Sheila was at St Catherine’s in August and September, and Sharon says ‘it was very peaceful when she died’ at the Lostock Hall hospice, aged 93.
Sharon, herself a retired nurse from Ribbleton, adds: “The staff at St Catherine’s are such professionals and you have absolute confidence in them, but they’re also very approachable and will spend time talking to you; you can ask them anything and they just speak to you in a very normal way.
“They looked after Mum as a whole person; they didn’t just focus on the illness, it was all about her wellbeing as well, and they checked in with the family too. They treat everyone with the utmost respect and dignity. It’s just out of this world.”
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