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Mary only became aware of our hospice@home service in August 2019 when our nurses began caring for her Mum, Nancy. Nancy had had a history of melanoma since 2005 and had also been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Dementia in 2015. She moved down to Brackley in Northamptonshire from Liverpool in 2016, so Mary could be closer to her and help with her care.

Over the next couple of years Nancy began to develop malignant lumps in her arm which despite removal in  hospital, began to return and started to spread to other areas of her body.  It was in the summer of 2019 the family discovered that Nancy’s cancer had really started to spread.

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Mary with her Mum, Nancy and Diane from our Hospice@home team

Mary recalls: “Despite this, Mum didn’t really complain of pain as due to her Alzheimer’s she did not remember she had cancer, and she seemed very content.  Then on 31st August 2019, she took to her bed very suddenly after somehow straining her neck.  Within a matter of days, she started to deteriorate quite rapidly and it became clear that the cancer had taken its hold once more and she was in a lot of pain.”

District Nurses started to make daily visits in September and they suggested that Nancy be cared for by our hospice@home team. Mary admits that: “At first I did nothing about making contact as I was caught up in a whirlwind of calls to GPs and care agencies, amidst sleepless nights. Then after a few days, I decided it might be worth a phone call and I spoke to a lovely lady called Julie who came out to visit very promptly. We agreed to accept the offer of two to three hour slots of respite care several times a week, whenever they could fit us in.

“Through September and the beginning of October 2019, we were lucky to be on the receiving end of the very professional service provided by the hospice@home team. Mum’s illness had taken such a dramatic turn for the worse in such a short space of time, my partner and I felt very unprepared and we really found ourselves in unknown territory. We remember all the nurses from the hospice were very helpful and supported us emotionally. All were expert in their knowledge of palliative care, willing to listen and answer our questions. We often had repeat visits from the same ladies, so we got to know them, and they showed kindness, not just to Mum but to us too.  It was a huge relief to have these visits and to know we could completely trust each member of staff with Mum’s care.”

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Mary's wife Laure, with Nancy

Music played a big part in Nancy’s life and Mary told us how the hospice nurses put on her favourite pieces and songs which became a huge source of comfort to her. “The staff positively encouraged us playing Christmas carols in September! Early on, the care staff soon picked up on how Mum had a great sense of humour and shared jokes, they also reacted and talked to her about her past and were always interested to hear her stories. When she became weaker and right up to the end when she was no longer able to converse, the ladies were exceptionally attentive and would still talk directly to her like a friend.”

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Nancy enjoying dinner

So how would Mary summarise our hospice@home service? “The friendly, professional caring service provided by the hospice far exceeded our expectations.  We had no idea what an emotional rollercoaster it is  to care for someone in their final weeks and days and the ladies from Cynthia Spencer gave us invaluable support and guidance.  Mum passed away at home on 5th October 2019 and we made a donation to our hospice@home service in her memory following her funeral.”

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