Julie's story

We didn’t know much about the hospice before; now we tell everyone.

It was just before lockdown that Ros Clarke began to feel unwell and was diagnosed with a bone marrow disorder.

“She was OK to start with,” remembers her daughter Julie. “She was having blood transfusions every four to six weeks and they kept her well for a couple of years. Gradually though, they were less effective and she was really tired. Her organs were being damaged by the increased iron levels and her body was just not working as it should.”

Ros Clarke

Just before Christmas, Tina, a hospice nurse, had been out to see her and spoke to her about the possibility of being cared for at the hospice. “We jumped at the chance,” recalls Julie. “We knew it was the best option for her.”

Ros arrived at the hospice in February and from the moment the family walked in the door they say it was like entering a different world. “She’d been really nervous and frightened in hospital but when she arrived at the hospice she relaxed. Everyone spoke to us and everyone smiled. Mum became really friendly with all the staff.

“She had a lot of visitors – everyone came to see her. She was hungry and the chef cooked her something special – a beef stir fry. She hadn’t been eating but that stir fry got her eating again and she continued to do so.”

Julie explains that her mum’s spirits immediately lifted upon entering the hospice. “When I left one evening she told me she was going to the disco for a boogie! She couldn’t have been happier.

“The team brought her hot chocolate and took her for walks in the garden and we were content in the knowledge that she was happy, safe and well looked after at the hospice.”

Tina, the nurse who had been to see Ros at home, also saw her during her stay at the hospice. “Mum was chuffed to see her. The continuity of the care was really important. Tina knew mum and what she needed so it was really nice that she was there too.”

The support offered to Ros by the charity also extended to the family. “Any questions we had, they answered. We were never left hanging and always had an update. They kept us going with tea and coffee and even made a bed for me so I could stay with her. We also spoke to someone who helped us sort some important forms that we just couldn’t navigate. There was somebody to help with everything.

“Mum struggled to sleep at times as she thought that, if she went to sleep, she wouldn’t wake up and Tina spoke to her about whether she had anything she wanted to say or anything she wanted to do before she died. It was nice knowing that someone was always with her and she was never alone.”

Ros wanted to die surrounded by her family and everyone was there with her when she took her last breath.

“The hospice was everything we weren’t expecting. We didn’t know much about it before but now we tell everyone. We didn’t think it would be so upbeat, happy and welcoming. We just wish mum had gone there sooner.”

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