Alex and Louisa's story
We’re Alex and Louisa, and our mum Elizabeth died at Springhill at the beginning of this year. It wasn’t the first time they’d cared for our family – Dad spent his last days there nearly 10 years ago. When he was there it was completely different of course. We were all able to pile in, family and friends, and we all got to spend lots of time with him. With Mum it was so different. Only one of us could go at a time (with her dog Maddie!) – and we had to wear masks and PPE. But the care was just the same. The nurses made time for Mum; they’d come and sit with her, keeping us going with cups of tea and cake. Because of them, despite the pandemic, Mum had the most wonderful care.
It started in the April of last year. Mum was one of those who caught COVID early on. She got through it, but months later she was in constant discomfort. The doctors thought it was the ‘long COVID’ we’ve been hearing about – but she kept getting worse. Tests were delayed and cancelled – and by the time we finally got a proper diagnosis it was too late. She had a large tumour; it was terminal, she only had weeks left.
She was referred to Springhill and was under the care of their Community Team who recommended she be admitted into the Hospice, just for a week to help ease her pain. Mum was scared, she knew Dad had gone in and not come out again – and she was determined to spend as much time as she could with us. But she went in, and they made her feel so welcome, so safe. They completely sorted her pain control, got her feeling so much better. They made a big fuss of her, the nurses thought she was hilarious! She started eating properly again, for the first time in so long (“I’m having three courses today!” she’d say).
The worry dropped away from her at Springhill – but she still wanted to come back out as soon as she could. She wanted us, her daughters, to look after her – and so we asked the nurses to help us make that possible. They were wonderful. They came out to our house (Mum was too poorly to go back to her own home) and worked out everything she would need. They sorted out a special bed, mattress, medicines – and then they brought her home to us. This was two weeks before Christmas.
For three weeks our front room became Mum’s bedroom. We spent every minute with her, just talking, laughing and remembering. We’d take it in turns to sleep on the sofa next to her, so we could help her overnight when she needed it. Christmas Day was the most wonderful, memorable day. She got to see her seven-year-old grandson opening his presents in the morning and we shared our Christmas meal together in our little ‘bubble’.
By early January this year though, she’d really started to go downhill. She needed more and more constant care; she was weaker and sicker than ever. We were really tired, too. We both work and having to keep that going and then care for Mum when we got home was exhausting (heaven knows how the Hospice nurses cope doing their job every day, we only had three weeks). To be honest, it had become too much for us to manage and so we said “Mum, we’re really struggling” – and she understood.
We spoke to the nurses again and once more Springhill came out to us. They brought her back to the Hospice. It was mid-morning and they settled her into the bed in her room. She was comfortable, calm, peaceful, out of pain. She slipped away that evening.
The pandemic meant that the end of Mum’s life was very different to Dad’s. But they both received the same incredible, dedicated, compassionate care from the nurses Mum always called ‘the angels’. They’ve given both our parents the care we couldn’t, when they needed it most. We will be forever grateful.
But now, we know, they need our help. They’re tired, overworked, but every day they are giving amazing care to local people like our parents. We’re going to be fundraising for them later this year (once we’re allowed back out and about again) – because we want to know that they’ll have the money to pay for the care someone else’s Mum or Dad will need. If you can help, please support Springhill please click here to make a donation.
We’re also both going to be sending in our messages of thanks, love and support. They’ve been there for us when life was so hard – we’re going to let them know that we’re there for them now. We hope you’ll join us and give Springhill staff the support they absolutely deserve.
Thanks – and we send you all best wishes from our family to yours.