“When my mother, Vera, was diagnosed as terminally ill at age eighty-five, I was planning on spending the summer with her, but unfortunately she passed away in spring this year. It was all quite quick. We had a lovely Christmas and the New Year together, but after that she went downhill very quickly.
I lived 50 yards away so I was visiting her every day: cooking meals, doing her medicine, calling doctors, but it was clear that she could no longer live by herself. It was at that point that the health professionals, including those at Ashgate Hospicecare, got involved and we decided that she should move in with me.
This took much longer than expected as I needed to make some changes to my house to accommodate her needs. By the time mum moved in, her condition was really bad and she was only here for three and a half weeks in the end, but Ashgate Hospicecare delivered all the specialist equipment mum needed.
It was really stressful for me even with all the help the nurses provided. Fortunately, my employer allowed me time off so I was able to care for mum full-time during her final weeks. Even so I had no spare time. I pretty much devoted all of my time to looking after her. We used to go out for walks, but we couldn’t do that after she got much worse.
Ashgate Hospicecare were really there for me during the hardest time. One of the nurses started coming once a week for a whole afternoon. It wasn’t for many weeks, of course, but that was an essential relief. It gave me that respite I needed. Even though I was only going out to do the shopping, just being able to get out of the house for an hour or two was such a help. It was getting so difficult by that point; I don’t know what I would have done without that time to myself and I’m really grateful to Ashgate for that.
Even with that extra help, over the course of those last weeks, my energy levels seriously declined. I wasn’t sleeping properly as I was getting up to check on mum every few hours throughout the night, just to make sure she was alright.
Mum didn’t want to go into a hospice or a home, so I’m fortunate that she was able to stay at mine until the end. However, the care she needed was too much for me to deal with on my own. Ashgate Hospicecare do such an amazing job, I can’t actually believe just seven healthcare assistants work in the Hospice at Home team! We would have really benefited from a 24/7 service where we could have seen the same nurses whenever we needed them - at nights and weekends and those really difficult moments, but they obviously need more funding and more staff to make that service available.”
Alan and Vera in 2015
Alan and Vera in 1983
Ashgate Hospicecare is an independent charity (no. 700636) that provides care to patients with a life-limiting illness across North Derbyshire. Our specialist teams make thousands of visits every year to patients in their own homes.
We have a Day Hospice for up to 16 patients per day, four days a week, a 21 bed Inpatient Unit providing 24/7 care and a range of therapy and support services on site.