Hospice Care Week: Nellie’s story
During Hospice Care week we are focusing on what it takes to deliver our services and sharing some of our patients’ stories. Today we focus on Hospice at Home and bring you Nellie’s story.
Nellie led an active, independent life well into her late 80s, living next door to her daughter Jane in Lowdham, Nottinghamshire, where she’d lived for 25 years.
All that changed when, at the age of 89, Nellie fell, breaking her hip and upper arm and requiring a hip replacement. This led to a string of other health problems including pneumonia, bowel obstruction and a suspected heart attack. Nellie stayed in hospital for five weeks, followed by two months in a care home, and never regained her mobility. When she finally came home, Jane and her husband moved in with her until they could get private home care sorted out.
The real problems began a few months later once Nellie developed dementia. Her personality changed and she became increasingly agitated, leaving the family at a loss to know what to do and who to turn to, especially at night.
Jane said: “She had always been very gentle, very solid, very wise, but she became a very different person. She became very agitated, her sleep pattern was disturbed. She was very up and down. It was terrible to see her so distressed.”
District Nursing support was arranged, but Jane frequently had to call nurses out several times a night when her mother got distressed. Then one of the District Nurses suggested Jane got Nottinghamshire Hospice involved and Hospice at Home support was arranged.
“That changed everything,” said Jane. “We felt so supported. It was amazing night care. Those women were the best people I’ve ever met. They were all consistently brilliant. The hospice gave us the gentle, caring reassuring feeling that we wanted at the end of her life. The word transformative sums it up. That feeling of being in safe hands was just amazing. I can’t praise the hospice enough. I’ll never lose that feeling of gratitude.”
Nellie died at home in November 2018, aged 90.
“We really wanted to keep mum at home, whatever it took. It was top priority. We’d talked about death a lot and she made her wishes known. And although she always said please don’t sacrifice your lives for me I’m really glad we were able to keep her at home,” Jane added.
“Our lives were very entwined having lived so close for so long. She’d had a wonderful life. It’s a shame it was so traumatic at the end before the hospice got involved but thank goodness we had you when we needed you most.”
Now Jane is keen to do whatever she can to help the hospice. She has donated £1,000 from her husband’s golf day and plans to support us in other ways.
Jo Polkey, Director of Care at Nottinghamshire Hospice, said: “We often hear from relatives how having a member of the Hospice at Home team in the house overnight relieves the need for urgent calls and brings a sense of calm to what can be a frightening and traumatic situation for carers. I’m so pleased we were able to support Jane to allow Nellie to have the death at home that she had wished for.”
Last year Nottinghamshire Hospice provided 46,000 hours of Hospice at Home care throughout Nottinghamshire. It takes £23K to provide this service for a week. There are lots of ways you can support us to help more families like Nellie and Jane’s. Find out more here.