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Helena's Story

When you’ve always been the one to look after your family, it can be hard to let them help you. After Helena was diagnosed with a terminal illness, she found it frustrating watching her husband, Peter, and children, John and Mary, care for her as her condition worsened. But accepting help from the Hospice was also difficult. John and Mary share their mum’s story, with help from their father Peter.

“For Mum, every step of the way, every stage, every new medical professional worried her, and at first, she wouldn’t even speak about the Hospice. She’d always said she didn’t want to be looked after by strangers. But in the end, because of Cottage Hospice, she didn’t need to be. She had the three of us there, looking after her. And obviously, once she got to know the staff, they weren’t strangers anymore either.

The staff and volunteers, without exception, respected and valued Mum as a person and always used her name, which was wonderful for us all. But most importantly, they were able to talk to Mum in a way that we found too hard. They spent a lot of time with her and brought up things that were too difficult for us to speak about. It just felt like there was a safety net.

The Gawthrop Family's Story

I think what persuaded her most, and what was really important for Mum and for Dad, was that they wouldn’t be separated. At Cottage Hospice, Dad was able to be with Mum all the time, which was really important for them both.”

“We had beds side by side and I couldn’t have asked for anything better than that. We had lots of time to talk and we found comfort in each other. I certainly felt at home there, and that was mainly because we could remain close together. In the final stages, I stayed in the room the whole time. To get meals, I would either pop to the kitchen or someone would bring me something, which meant I could be with Helena all day long, which was the only thing I wanted. Those moments were special. It was good to be together, so closely together, all the time.

For me, I felt my control over the situation was strengthened. It was so calm and peaceful. We knew that every morning and every evening someone would come round to see how we were. And we knew that through the night, someone was at hand. It was very comforting to know that if anything did happen, there would always be someone there who could help, someone who would know what to do. It was very caring without being intrusive.”

“In the room Mum was in, there was a view across the garden. There were trees in the distance and beyond that there were fields. It was very relaxing, and mum appreciated that. She liked birds and spent some time watching out the window. It didn’t feel like a medical facility. It was an almost home-like environment. That was very reassuring and made the transition from being at home so much easier than we expected. Once Mum arrived and realised what it was like, all her anxieties slipped away. That made a huge difference to her.

It made it much easier in those final days, for her and for us.

We couldn’t have imagined a place like Cottage Hospice could have existed. And really, in the situation, I don’t think we could have found a better place to be. It was way beyond anything we could have expected.”