We felt we had a team behind us supporting us - Pam and Carrie's story for National Hospice Care

Hospices care for whole families and help people to create treasured memories during one of life's most difficult times. When Elaine Kebble was diagnosed with cancer, she was supported by the team at St Catherine's Hospice. This Hospice Care Week, Elaine's mum Pam and daughter Carrie reflect on the difference this made.

"Mum always spoke so highly of the hospice nurses," recalls Carrie. "They were so much more than a caring team; they were more like friends to her.

She had hospice support at home for a while and I remember so many times when I popped in to see her I'd find her having a cuppa and a chat with the nurses. Knowing the hospice team were supporting Mum at home and that she had the medical care she needed was such a relief. It felt like a pressure had been lifted."

"Elaine was so brave, but she was starting to struggle at home," explains Pam. "Just before she went into the hospice she said, "Mum, I can't go on any longer." I knew then that she'd had enough."

"Mum felt such an affinity with the hospice and she'd already told me that when the time came, she wanted her last day to be at St Catherine's because the team made her feel comfortable and content" says Carrie.

When Elaine was admitted to the hospice Carrie, Pam and other family members spent precious time with her

"She was wheeled out into the hospice's beautiful gardens and I have lovely memories of her lying on her bed in the sunshine," says Pam. "She was so happy, and it was so wonderful to see that the nurses had taken the time to take her outside. It's a memory I cherish."

"St Catherine's didn't ever feel like a hospice during the time we were there, it was our home," adds Carrie. "The nurses were amazing, and we really felt we had a team behind us, supporting us.

An accumulation of small, amazing contributions from the whole hospice team made the care Mum and our family had so special. Once Mum and I were in the garden discussing what beach we'd be sitting on if we weren't at the hospice when one of the nurses asked us "what beach are you on then?". When we told her, the team made us a fruit cocktail to help us feel like we were there. The Catering Team had got to know Mum so well; they knew she liked Bacardi and added that to our cocktail without prompting. We sat admiring the colours of the garden flowers and drinking our cocktails in the afternoon sun. I'm so grateful that I shared that precious moment with Mum."

"We had an X-Factor party at the hospice one evening too," recalls Pam. "Elaine used to love it and I remember there were about 7 or 8 of us in her room all holding her hand. We had food and drink, the X-Factor was playing in the background and it was a lovely, relaxed evening.

I always looked forward to visiting Elaine as the hospice always made our time together special - we really did cherish it. We had lots of laughs and it wasn't all sadness. I was so pleased Elaine was there."

Thanks to St Catherine's Carrie and Pam even have lovely memories of Elaine's last few days

"We were able to make sure Mum passed away with dignity and come away with lovely memories of those last few days," explains Carrie. "If we hadn't had the support of the hospice things would have been very different. I probably would have felt like I didn't do enough for Mum but being with her and embracing the hospice was enough. I was able to be her daughter, not a carer and that was just invaluable."

"Elaine's passing was as calm, peaceful and happy as it could be," recalls Pam. "We were all there, holding her hand and talking to her, it was a real family affair. Elaine went slowly and quietly in her sleep. She didn't suffer and she wasn't in pain - that's all you can hope for. If anybody has to go St Catherine's is the place you'd want them to be."

"They're the sort of team you want on your side when you're going through such a massive life challenge," adds Carrie.

"After Elaine died so many people told me what a wonderful person she was," says Pam. "I feel so privileged she was my daughter and that people loved her so much. We always said she was too good for this world."

Carrie and Pam are still connected to St Catherine's

"After Mum passed away, I had bereavement counselling with the hospice," explains Carrie. "It was so positive that I've carried on with therapy since. I also started volunteering as it felt right to give something back. Volunteering with the hospice has made me feel a part of the team that gave my family so much."

"We've also hung a memory leaf on the tree in the hospice's Quiet Room garden for Elaine," explains Pam. "I play the hospice lottery and have brought their Christmas cards. I'll always have a soft spot for St Catherine's."

Your support means St Catherine's can continue to provide vital care for other families like Elaine's. Please donate whatever you can afford this Hospice Care Week. Every donation makes a donation. You can donate online at www.stch.org.uk/donate or call 01293 447361. Thank you.


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