Mum could no longer speak, but Marie Curie helped her communicate with us
Katy Young’s mother, Ann, had advanced throat cancer and went through a series of procedures that left her unable to speak or swallow. She was cared for at the Marie Curie Hospice, Newcastle and Katy recalls the many ways the hospice made things better for her mother, including helping her communicate with her family.
“Someone from Marie Curie came to see us in the hospital and we went to visit the hospice and have a look around before Mum was admitted.
“Mum moved into the hospice in April 2012 and remained there for the last three months of her life. She had her own room, so she had her privacy. I think it was much more comfortable for her to be in the hospice than in hospital. In terms of pain relief, there was always someone there. In the hospice, we could personalise the room and have pictures up – which we couldn’t have done in hospital.
Respect and dignity
“She was in the hospice for quite a long time, so we got to know the staff well. It wasn’t just the care my mum received, it was the care we all had as a family.
“My dad and I thought the hospice was brilliant. The staff got to know Mum and gave her personalised care, and treated her with respect and dignity. We could visit her at any time. There was somewhere for us to stay over. My Dad was there nearly every night. I stayed over once – it was quite hard, because I was in the first year of university doing a nursing degree.
A special machine
“Because Mum was unable to speak, the hospice arranged for her to have a little machine, with a keyboard, so she could type out what she wanted to say. It made a big difference as it meant she could communicate.
"She was always one for talking so it was really hard for her not to be able to. It was hard for us too, as we didn’t hear her speak for the last three months of her life. Sadly, when she became weaker, she couldn’t write or type any more either.
“A couple of times one of the hospice volunteers did Mum’s hair and make-up and a pet therapy dog would be brought around. Little things like that really helped her. The hospice staff also made it possible for her to go home for the day once, which meant a lot to her. They were always there to answer questions and make sure she wasn’t in any pain.
“After Mum passed away, the hospice offered us bereavement support. We had a social worker who was in contact for quite a few months. They also organised a memorial service for her at the hospice.
"We are now heavily involved in fundraising for the hospice and run a community fundraising group. It’s good to share your story with people who have been through the same kind of thing as you. And it’s good to give back for the care Mum received.”