In Summer 2021, Brenda’s health was declining and it became clear to her and her daughter, Kelly, that they’d benefit from some additional support. Brenda and Kelly worked with Harlington Hospice’s Inpatient Unit and Hospice at Home Teams throughout the rest of Brenda’s life.
After a stay in hospital in 2021, it was important to Brenda that she could go back to her own home and be supported by Kelly where possible. However, Brenda needed to use an oxygen concentrator machine at this stage, which complicated this picture. It was difficult for Kelly to leave her mum at night and Brenda’s partner, who she lived with, was not physically able to support her at the time.
Kelly explained, “Mum would be a bit anxious at nights and so I would stay over. That became like a fixed pattern. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving her on her own. And, obviously no one can look after your mum as well as you can.”
Seeing that Kelly herself needed some extra support, the District Nurses the family had been working with recommended Harlington Hospice’s Hospice at Home Team. Kelly shared, “The Hospice at Home service was a real godsend to us because it allowed me to have a night away. To come home to try and get a little bit of rest in between looking after mum. And that was my only form of support.”
Like many people facing a terminal illness, Brenda’s support and care needs shifted throughout her last year of life. She was consistently supported by Kelly at home and used our Hospice at Home service on two separate occasions. And stayed at our Inpatient Unit in May 2022 to manage her symptoms before returning home.
“In the new year we’d kind of gotten to grips with mum’s health. My mum was very resilient anyway. She was by no means not wanting to do anything for herself, but she just wasn’t physically able to. After she had gotten into a bit of a better place with her health, her partner and I did get into a pattern of him supporting her a couple of nights a week so that I could be at home. We continued like that until she became seriously ill again at the end of May and went into hospital and then on to Michael Sobell House. After she came home again, Hospice at Home was really invaluable.
“Obviously, it was really terrifying for me when she became ill again. But they were such lovely women that came and stayed. It was just reassuring to have that little bit of backup; some additional help for me to get her into bed or do other little things to support her.
“For the first three or four nights after she came home, we had somebody come in each night. Then we had sitters on both of the last two nights before mum passed. They were all just fantastic. I was really grateful for that support to continue when my mum was at the end.
“My mum could be a bit resistant at times, you know, she wanted me there and would ask for me. But she did know several of the ladies from when they came in 2021. A couple of them she got along with really well and I felt they were exceptional. And really tried to make sure she was comfortable.
“Mum had very swollen legs and feet, which would become quite sore. So, one of the ladies would very gently rub her feet. It’s that kind of tactile reassurance. Mum was very brave and she still very much knew her own mind and how to communicate with people. She knew the kindness the Hospice at Home Team showed. Helping her try and relax about getting into bed, or just making us cups of tea. You know, making life feel a bit more normal.
“I also chatted with some of the ladies because I was struggling. They were lovely, very supportive. I was trying not to show my mum that I was struggling so much, so when they would arrive at 10 o’clock I would go out, even if it wasn’t always going somewhere completely different. They encouraged me to take a break. After my mum passed, I had messages from the Hospice at Home Referral Coordinators to let me know that they were sorry to hear the news. And that if I needed anything I could call. That communication and acknowledgement meant a lot.
“I just have nothing but praise for the people who do that job. The peace of mind that it brings. I don’t know what I would have done for over a year if I hadn’t had their support. And the Hospice at Home Referral Coordinators were just amazing. The way that they are just so easy to talk to, so approachable. They were just so lovely. My mum was very fond of them all.”