"She felt comfortable and was able to get it all off her chest"
When *Jacquie’s mum was admitted to the hospice, she felt safe enough to reveal to nurses she had been in an abusive relationship for years. Although difficult for Jacquie to talk about how her mum had spent the last few years, she wants to share her story to highlight the relief she felt at the safeguarding put in place by the hospice so her mum could be happy again. This is her story…
The word hospice didn’t frighten me but I suppose it sounds ‘final’. It kind of puts it all into perspective because when you hear that, you know everyone means business. The first contact we had with the hospice was with Community Clinical Nurse Specialist, Sophie. She was brilliant, very caring. She explained what she thought the process was going to be health-wise. I’d almost look forward to her coming. We had quite a lot of communication even on the phone in between her visits to my mum.
I had a folder with all the important things in such as the names of drugs in case anyone needed to know, and on the folder I put the hospice’s SinglePoint number. I did have to use it once or twice and it was always handy to know someone was on the end of the phone all the time. That’s really quite comforting because there were times when I just needed someone to tell me about this or that. I was like mum’s PA with the folder and writing down all the important things!
Sophie suggested it may be an idea for my mum to spend some time at the hospice. I think all our intentions had been for it to be a bit of respite. Obviously we weren’t aware at that time what was going to creep into conversation…
We arrived on the Sunday and left her to settle in. The allegations came out that evening once I had gone home so the following morning was when I first met Ali [Social Worker and Adult Safeguard Lead at the hospice]. She guided me through what the hospice needed to do as a result of what mum said. Ali was really good at explaining why they were doing what they were doing. It was comforting to know each day when I left, mum was safe.
Ali made sure all the staff supporting mum were aware of the safety plan put in place for her. Ali also explained to me my role as next of kin and what it means to have a Will in place.
If my mother hadn’t felt as comfortable as she did within hours of entering the hospice, we probably wouldn’t have become aware of the abuse my mother had suffered. That’s a big thing for me, that instantly she did feel comfortable and was able to get it all off her chest. And then I was extremely grateful for all the safeguards that were put in place so she felt comfortable.
There were two conversations I never thought I’d have with my mother. Serious allegations had come out and to her; that part of her life was now finished. She was sad but she didn’t want to talk to or see him again. The second was when we were sitting there and she said ‘do you think I’ll get married again?’ With a million different things going through my mind, and after a slight pause I said ‘you never know!’ It was sweet that we could have a laugh and to be honest I don’t think I’d had a laugh with her in ages, probably since her diagnosis several months before.
She wanted to know where her makeup was. She’d not worn makeup in ages because he didn’t want her to. I said ‘do you feel like wearing it again?’ And she said ‘yes, I think I do’. Those things to me indicated she was very comfortable at the hospice, very at home. She liked having a giggle with the nurses. She liked getting the choice of food having been deprived of it at home, and the endless cups of tea.
Since mum died I’ve been back to the hospice and had coffee with Sophie and she’s mentioned if I need counselling, that’s there for me. The hospice isn’t just there for the patient, it’s there for the whole family, which is really quite nice. I wouldn’t have known any of that or even thought it would be for us, especially after the event. It’s quite a unique thing that they are there for any length of time for family members.
I went to look at her leaf on the Memory Tree yesterday. The hospice is somewhere I feel comfortable going back to. I had five minutes in the [multi-faith chapel] and put a little message on the tree in there. The garden looked lovely with all the daffodils. It’s a nice setting and so very peaceful; the perfect place to reflect on everything that has recently happened.
Wills are important, especially in our case. That was a very important piece of paper. Whatever age you are everyone should have a Will. None of us know what’s around the corner. None of us know how complicated things are going to get and with a Will everyone knows where they stand. Families are complicated and unfortunately it is at the worst time people choose to do the wrong thing. If you have a Will, wishes are sealed and sorted. In our case it was extremely important. Take your time choosing executors, again because my mother had thought very carefully about this many years ago, we were able to give her the funeral she wanted and deserved.
I think everyone at St Helena does an amazing job. It was a lovely atmosphere at the hospice. There were several nights I went home and thought it’s such a weird situation to find myself in. On the one hand I was experiencing the saddest thing that could possibly be happening, but on the other hand I loved being part of the hospice. I loved being in there and talking to the nurses and knowing what was happening. It was such a lovely feeling being part of it; I felt part of the team.
From the minute we walked in there on that Sunday, it was amazing. I’m very grateful for everything that was done, just very grateful. Thank you to St Helena for everything you did for both mum and me.
*name has been changed
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