Getting mum home for Christmas


Where will you be spending this Christmas? As we’ve all experienced over the last couple of years, it’s the small things that have meant the most to us. It’s not material objects but time spent with family and friends that we’ve missed and, like most, I’m planning to spend this Christmas with as many of those I love that I can.

However, for me, one person will be missing round the tree this year and that’s mum.

Around nine years ago, my mum Lorraine Prout was diagnosed with a rare tumour. At first, they didn’t think it was too bad. It was removed but grew back and eventually we were told there was nothing they could do for her.

She had chemo like many people and, to our surprise, it didn’t seem to affect her. She was driving, shopping, gardening… just generally doing normal day to day things like anyone else. It soon stopped working though and she felt awful. She became frail and started losing weight. She was in and out of hospital with infections and then one day, in November, when she went in, we knew she wouldn’t come out.

We wanted her to be cared for at home but we couldn’t fit all the equipment she would need into the house. There was the hospice, but that had always been a scary place to me, so she stayed at the hospital where she deteriorated fast and became incredibly unhappy.

A palliative nurse said we should consider the hospice so my step-dad and I asked if we could visit to see if this was a better option for her. The decision was made as soon as we walked in the door. The outside was welcoming and everyone we met was so friendly. We were shown around and as soon as we walked in, we knew mum would be happy there.


I travelled in the ambulance with her and when we arrived, all the staff welcomed her and it put a massive smile on her face.

They showed mum to single side room and I thought ‘oh no, she’ll hate this’. Mum was a social creature – she never wanted to be on her own. Their response was immediate. They wheeled her straight back out and took her to a shared room, which made her so much happier. The doctor then came straight in to sort through her needs. There was no waiting at all.

As soon as she arrived she asked if someone could help her with her legs as she was struggling to walk. She saw someone within an hour! The team gave mum physio to help her be more mobile and that was a real gift. It showed me that the team doesn’t give up on someone and people don’t come here to die but to get the most out of life, however long that might be.

Some of the highlights weren’t anything to do with the care she received either. She was able to leave her bed and enjoy the garden room. She would sit and watch the birds and deer. She was even given the opportunity to decorate a Christmas tree, which she really enjoyed and even purchased a few items from the small shop in the hospice to include on it.

I couldn’t believe how much they looked after her – and not just in a medical sense. One day, following an episode when mum had been in severe pain, staff told us they thought she could be in her final hours. Then she woke up and asked for ice cream! This amazed them and they went straight out and got her some.

On another day, she didn’t want what was on the menu as she was struggling to swallow and asked for semolina. The chef returned to say they didn’t have any but not to worry. They went out and bought some so she could have the dinner she wanted that evening. I just couldn’t believe it.

Mum was at the hospice’s inpatient unit for four weeks in total and celebrated her birthday there. The chef baked a cake and the nurses put tea and biscuits out for the family. It was so generous and such a lovely thing to do for us.

We made the decision just before Christmas that we wanted her to be at home. She just loved Christmas and the team at the hospice did everything they could to make this possible for her.

We got the house ready and my step-dad decked out the front with lights as we knew, when she arrived home, this was the last time she would see the front of the house.

We looked after mum at home and she made it through Christmas and New Year before she died, aged 61, surrounded by her family, on 7 February. She was so grateful that we managed to get her home and was happy between her own four walls.

If you’re not able to play this Christmas raffle, or make a donation to the hospice, I understand; these times have been challenging for us all. But I’d like to thank you – so much. As someone who has previously played the hospice’s raffle, you enabled my mum to receive the care she needed and deserved.

Louise Prout

Loving Daughter of Lorraine