Photo: Gary’s mum, Audrey (right) with Gary’s Grandma on Christmas Day
“My mum, Audrey Demaine, moved into St Gemma’ on Christmas Eve 2015. From the start she loved looking out of the patio doors in her room every afternoon and evening, seeing the gardens and the Christmas lights, including a big stag all lit up.
She had been having chemotherapy for lung cancer, but unfortunately after an operation for a burst ulcer she wasn’t strong enough to have any more treatment. I knew she’d have really good care in St Gemma’s, and she was confident about going in too. She’d been in a hospital room on her own, and she thought she’d see more people at the Hospice. This turned out to be the case – her friends could all go in and visit her, and I also visited her every day after I finished work. She did enjoy it. In fact, up until about two days before she died she seemed almost ‘fit and well’ and was enjoying life.
Dad had died just eight days beforehand, so we were both still grieving for him. His funeral was 30th December but Mum couldn’t go. She stayed in the Hospice and died on 13th January. So I lost them both within a month of each other. My wife and I were her only family, so I had so much to do. The support from St Gemma’s made a big difference.
Mum loved being at St Gemma’s, even though her time was coming to an end. The staff were lovely and made her stay really enjoyable, having a chat or pouring her a glass of whisky. The care she received, with the presents and the lovely food, made her last Christmas. Sharing this story has brought back some nice memories.
St Gemma’s is a really special place and the staff are wonderful. I know people think the Hospice is where you go to die, but it offers so much more. You can have a bit of quality time while you’re still here. Obviously people are going to have sad times there because of what they go in for. But my experience was that it’s a happy place. Everyone is friendly, from the nurses to the people who work on reception and the little gift shop, and the staff in the bistro. From my heart I say thank you.”