Vhyki and her family's story

Vhyki is a daughter to one of our lovely patients. Vhyki wrote us about her experience when her mum was cared for on our ward.  

“Mam started to feel unwell just before Christmas. It built slowly but it became clear that no matter what her blood tests and scans said, there was something seriously wrong somewhere. There was. Cancer. She was so ill, they admitted her to hospital straight away. After being in the hospital, they suggested hospice care and Mam said yes. Yes please, but it has got to be The Prince of Wales Hospice. So a bed was found at The Prince of Wales Hospice and the following day she was transferred.
Later that evening, the Doctor working on shift at the hospice telephoned me to discuss Mam’s care and sort out some paperwork, more importantly she asked me what I wanted to know. She talked about Mam like she was a fellow human, rather than bed six. She used medical terms and phrases which were easy to understand, yet not patronising. She had time. I mean she probably didn’t have loads of time and must have had a million and one things to do, but it felt like she was there for Mam, AND for me. Again, that holistic, family care and support. I was given a phone number to ring 24/7 which would get me straight through to the lovely nursing team. I was told that rather than days and end of life care, Mam had already shown them that she wasn’t there just yet. She was surprised at just how much strength Mam was showing them. Yes, she had a terminal illness and no there wasn’t that miracle of it just melting away. You see they just know, they work with people in this situation all the time. It’s their special skill set. She spoke to me about the big picture of getting Mam home for as long as she could manage. She spoke of care packages, physio and well-being activities, Reiki and jacuzzis. She went through the drugs that Mam had been taking in hospital. Great fists full of tablets taken several times a day (no wonder her appetite was poor, she was full up!) Some of them she said, were not needed at the hospice.  She went through them all with mam and they decided on what was needed, together. Mam had only been there a few hours and already things had changed for the better.
So onto the food. That first tea time, Mam was asked what she wanted to eat. What did she fancy? The cook herself came round to ask this. Mam wasn’t sure, but wanted something simple after all the mass produced hospital food. Chips and egg? The cook suggested. Perfect. Where could you get that meal cooked for you in a hospital? She ate the lot. Weeks of picking and suddenly she had real, proper food. Whatever Mam wanted, within reason, she could have. And she could order a supper for later on. Little and often is the mantra with cancer patients and at The Prince of Wales Hospice, it can actually happen. It’s not just words, not just a phrase to be rolled around. They mean it. I’ve seen the food, it’s well presented without being all ‘Fancy Dan’. It is food without ‘notions’ and I would be happy to pay good money for it in a trendy Northern Quarter café bar. Nutritious and balanced but well, everyone deserves a chip or two and a gooey lemon sponge now and then, don’t they. I witnessed Mam eating broccoli there, I never thought I would see the day, if I’m honest, but she ate it and enjoyed it.
I have a long list of mental health conditions. Not great timing to have severe mental health problems at the same time as a terminally ill parent. Busy, noisy places fill me with fear and I just can’t do it at the moment. I love my Mam and fortunately she understands why so many things are just too much for me right now. This brings me to Jess, the hospice social worker. I knew that there was a chance that with the right things in place, I could maybe go visit Mam in the hospice. I wasn’t sure how, but I knew it was calm and quiet from when Dad was there.  Jess got in touch and said they would do whatever they could to help me. She told me to have a think and they would too. I had a look on The Prince of Wales Hospice website and I saw the virtual guided tour video and clicked play. I’m so glad I did. There it was, a little bit about the rooms. It showed the treatment rooms, kitchen and meeting spaces. Best of all, it showed the French windows in every room. A possible solution. After talking with Jess and the team, a plan was hatched. I could walk around the outside of the building and go to Mam’s room from outside, I could see a clear exit route, daylight and not have to walk through the building, which I knew I wouldn’t be able to do. I did it. It wasn’t easy but I did it. Fortunately, the weather gods smiled down on us and blessed us with sunshine and warmth so I was able to sit with Mam with the doors open onto the patio. The staff were brilliant at letting me get fully outside if they needed to talk to, or treat Mam. I could go and walk around the amazing gardens and read the memorial tiles dedicated to all the people the hospice have helped over the years and all the hospice sponsors. People who have helped fund the amazing work they do there. It’s a community effort, a family who help families.
So the plan is working, mam is hopefully coming home next week, to spend as much time at home as she can. The hospice have supported us throughout her time there. Blue badge application, financial help, carers to help her wash and dress, physio, medical support. Everything you could wish for and things you would never think of.
It’s a magical place. Vhyki”

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