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Brian's Story

08-Nov-2016

Brian's Story

Brian was just 62 years old when he passed away on Tuesday 4th April 2016. Brian was born on 9th November 1953 at Myrtle Street Liverpool, to Beefoe and Ellen Smith. During his time as a merchant seaman Brian travelled to various countries and had amazing stories to share when he returned home to his mum and sisters Beverly, Lorraine, Maureen and Tia. Brian met his wife Kay when his ship docked in Barrow in Furness and became stepdad to Kay's children Paul and Steven, followed by the birth of their two children Kelly and Brian. It was Barrow in Furness that then became Brian's home for the rest of his life.

Brian's sisters fondly remember growing up with Brian. As an older brother, he was a funny character: always playing practical jokes on them! Brian had a creative side to him and his two main passions in life were art and music. Brian would enjoy painting pictures which he would then either gift to his beloved mother or display proudly in his own home. Brian's choice of music would be an acoustic style and he enjoyed listening to guitar tunes, so much so that he decided he would play himself. Brian taught himself how to play and his love of music is something that would continue right up until the very end of his life.

Although Brian's marriage sadly came to an end, Barrow in Furness had become his home, and he decided not to return to Liverpool but to continue living in this lovely little town. He would often return to Kirkby to visit his mum and sisters and would speak fondly of his friends up in Barrow and the love of music they shared.

In 2014 Brian became ill and following tests he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Brian began treatment and at one point was given the all clear. Unfortunately, this did not last long and the cancer returned. Brian battled on until he and his family were told that there was sadly no more that could be done to help Brian but make him as comfortable as possible. It was at this point that St Mary's Hospice was introduced to Brian and his family. His sister Tia recalls how she felt when the hospice was suggested: “The mention of a hospice ultimately brought fear to us all. It just felt like this was the end of the road and a hospice was somewhere people just went to pass away.”

Sadly the day before Brian moved in to the hospice his beloved mum had passed away back in Liverpool. This was an extremely distressing time for the whole family but the staff at St Mary's were fantastic and such a huge comfort at such a difficult time for Brian and his sisters. With his family travelling from Liverpool to move Brian to the hospice situated in Ulverston, the staff did not hesitate in ensuring that Tia and Beverly had somewhere to stay. They showed outstanding hospitality and brought a light relief with their friendly manner and comforting words.

Brian absolutely loved the staff at St Mary's and really enjoyed their company. One of the family's favourite memories of Brian's time in the hospice was one morning when Brian was getting ready a bath and two members of staff took him on each arm. Brian was always determined to carry on walking no matter how weak he was. He found being joined on each arm by these two lovely ladies brilliant and begun singing “I'm getting married in the morning! Ding Dong the bells are gonna chime,” as usual Brian was lifting the spirits of everybody around him and hopped in to a massive bubble bath delighted with himself!

Tia remembers fondly how nothing was ever too much: “The staff in the hospice always made so much time for Brian. He loved chatting to them and making everybody laugh with his funny stories and jokey manner. I remember one night Brian had not had a very good time, the staff advised us to contact family members and basically prepared us for the worst. We sat up all night not knowing what the situation would be by morning. Well anyway, Brian woke up the next morning and being the joker that he was exclaimed 'I'm alive!' And had everybody laughing and relieved! He picked up his guitar and begun strumming away to one of his favourite artists Paul Weller and the staff all sat around him just enjoying his music. It was such a lovely feeling, we knew he was absolutely in the best place possible and that really made what was a horrible situation that bit more bearable.”

Brian eventually moved down to a hospice in Liverpool to spend his final days to be closer to all of his family but they will never forget how much he loved his time at St Mary's. Brian passed away on 4th April 2016 surrounded by his family.

Thank you so much to Brian’s family for sharing such a private time and loving memories of Brian. Your story will hopefully encourage more patients and their families to access the care, comfort and support of St Mary’s Hospice whenever and wherever they need it.

Brian was a keen and talented artist, here’s some wonderful examples of his work:



Patrick and Helen’s Story

24-Aug-2016

Patrick and Helen’s Story

‘’I felt at the time and feel now that I am held in the palm of friends who care.’’

Patrick Warrington was born in India in 1933 where his Father worked for the Bank of India. At the age of 12 Patrick was sent home to Ireland to attend boarding school,
spending holidays with his cousins and their parents. His younger sister Felicity stayed in India. After the war the family were reunited and made Ireland their home.Patrick went to Trinity College University of Dublin where he studied engineering. On moving to the UK Patrick became MD of an electronics company which he set up with 2 colleagues and remained with the company until retirement. Classical music was a passion throughout Patrick’s life and he played the piano with great skill. Helen and Patrick married in 1992 and between them have four children and 6 grandchildren, the most recent being Maya who was born just as Patrick passed away.

On retiring Patrick and Helen moved to Ulverston and packed lots into the years before Patrick became ill. They had enjoyed fell walking for many years and continued to do so. Patrick was a member of the Ulverston Writers and was a prolific writer of poetry, stories and plays, a number of which were broadcast on Radio and published in anthologies. Patrick was very much loved and respected by not just his family but the local community as well as his beloved miniature poodle Jess.

Helen kindly wrote to St.Mary’s Hospice thanking us for the care and support they both received during Patrick’s final illness. Helen has agreed to share their story in the hope that their experience will encourage other families to seek the support they need.

Patrick suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Bodies Dementia both of which were managed well with medication. Helen was his full time carer but they managed to continue with activities and interests. In January 2015 Patrick began to deteriorate and he was diagnosed with end stage renal failure and multiple myelomas both conditions terminal. The family made the brave decision not go down the route of treatment in the best interests of Patrick. The Macmillan nurse referred Patrick to the Hospice and both were invited to join the Wednesday afternoon care sessions in March.

Helen’s first experience of St Mary’s was ‘’A very caring reassuring place to come. I was quite emotional that first day and had encountered difficulty parking and got into a bit of a state, but I received amazing support from Jenny Stalker, the sister in charge who arranged for a volunteer driver to bring us in the future. These afternoons were very good for Patrick he was able to engage with other people and appreciate the various activities in his own way’’.

Following this Helen took ‘’the huge decision’’ for Patrick to come into the Hospice for respite care as she was very tired. Patrick could no longer be left alone as his mobility became worse. To help with this big step Helen created a memory book to accompany Patrick ‘’If I was letting someone else look after Patrick they need to know about him and his family, who he had been and who he was now’’. Helen filled a scrap book with Patrick’s life story and photos of family, friends and Jess. This provided a starting point for the staff to know him and provided reassurance for Helen.

Helen said about respite care ‘’ Everyone was so caring and friendly. I didn’t feel a nuisance when I asked questions and I was cared for as well, the staff made sure I had time out and did not spend all my time visiting. All this took away the fear and guilt at having left Patrick, I was able to go home and not feel I had abandoned him’’.

Patrick returned home and continued to have a quality of life with Helen, Jess and family. However on September 18th Patrick suddenly became very unwell and was admitted to Furness General Hospital for assessment. ‘’ The staff were brilliant’’
Patrick deteriorated further and Helen requested the Hospice team be informed early Tuesday morning , I knew Patrick was dying and hospital was not where I wanted him to be.’’ Maggie (Dr Deytrikh) and Helen the Liaison Nurse came quickly Maggie took one look at my face, hugged me and said he is coming to us. Because Patrick had been in for respite and I had met Maggie I knew I could trust St Mary’s implicitly with my Patrick’s care. He was moved very quickly and Matt the staff nurse on duty was incredible, I was asked what I wanted for Patrick and if we had talked about his wishes, I could honestly answer yes and within a short time Patrick was peaceful and comfortable.”

Helen did not leave Patrick from that moment. Her daughter and stepdaughter arrived quickly and were a source of great support. They worked out a protocol for the days ahead, Helen and her daughter stayed all the time ,Patrick’s daughter opted to not to stay at night but did all the daytime running around as needed. They agreed no tears in the room, just normal chat and laughter and always some of Patrick’s favourite music playing. ‘’We couldn’t change what was happening but if Patrick could sense or hear anything he would think it was a normal day with voices he knew and loved and music he enjoyed’’.

Helen understands the dilemma every family goes through at this time.
‘’When you are caring for someone very dear to you promises are made. Originally I wanted Patrick to be at home but allowing him to be in the Hospice gave me four days of precious quality time with him. I was able to hold him, lie beside him and talk to him without having to think about the nursing care he needed. Those last days were so calm and peaceful and so full of love that I had no fear for myself or Patrick, he simply fell asleep with my arms around him. St Mary’s Hospice staff gave us that wonderful gift.

Patrick died on September 25th 2015 surrounded by his beloved wife and children.

It is important to know that the Hospice support does not end with the death of a loved one, it continues with support for the whole family. Helen attended Bereavement Support and Tai Chi classes.

The Bereavement Support enabled Helen to learn how to manage her grief and how over time it can be healing. The Tai chi taught her how to manage stress through Breathing techniques and how to improve her posture, compromised through being a full time carer. Helen firmly believes that St Mary’s took away the fear from her and Patrick about firstly coming in for respite and then for the final few days of Patrick’s life. ‘’I felt at the time and feel now that I am held in the palm of friends who care.’’


Alan's thoughts on our hospice

16-Feb-2016

Alan's thoughts on our hospice
Alan has been coming to St Mary’s for Day Care once a fortnight and Respite Care for several years. “I enjoy it very much. I find St Mary’s Hospice very relaxing and such a friendly place.”

Alan enjoys coming to the Hospice “I love it. I think it’s wonderful.The nurses are so kind and considerate. You can’t fault it at all.”

Alan comes in for respite care: “Respite care helps and for me is a wonderful way of relaxing. This also gives my wife a break, and she looks after me 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She can’t relax and listens out for me, so it helps her very much. We speak on the phone everyday.”

Alan also joined in with the Penny Bridge project – where Penny Bridge school came into Day Care sessions. Alan was a ‘buddy’ to young fundraiser Jake Wood. Alan explains: “It was such a friendly project. I felt so lucky to get to know Jake. At the end of the project he held my hand and said ‘Oh Alan, it’s been so nice meeting you.’ It was wonderful!”

“If anyone was nervous about coming here, I would say don’t be nervous at all. You will have a wonderful time. The general atmosphere is lovely and nothing’s too much trouble.”
Alan recommended the food too adding “it’s very nice food!” Alan doesn’t have a favourite yet (but we can work on that!).

 

Thank you to Alan for sharing his story and showing how everything our community does to provide this level of care makes a difference.

 



Teresa's Story

30-Sep-2015

Teresa's Story

Teresa has been coming to St Mary’s for Day Care, Positive Living, Respite Care and Community Neighbours. Teresa enjoys coming to the Hospice because there are no rules at the Hospice! “I think it’s partly to do with the relaxed atmosphere and it is very welcoming. Everyone is so helpful and positive the nurses can’t do enough for you.”

“The meals are absolutely marvellous! I look forward to them.” Teresa hasn’t got a favourite – she simply couldn’t choose!

In terms of Teresa’s health care, she is pleased that the care is not rushed: “The doctors have opened new avenues for me. They also have time for you to look into your health more deeply. The Hospice has a very homely atmosphere and the surroundings are so pleasant: being relaxed and calm really helps.”

Teresa attends St Mary’s Day Care: “I look forward to it, in the middle of my week. At the moment I miss it as I haven’t been well enough to attend. But I enjoy the relaxation of Tai Chi – which we do sitting down. I forget the outside world and it’s like we are cocooned for a while. It does me so much good and is very calming.”

Teresa has also recently started to have a St Mary’s Community Neighbour: “I have a lovely lady. When I am back I am hoping we could pop to a shop together. It will be good to get back out and about more.”

Teresa unfortunately can’t go on holiday but sees St Mary’s as providing a very welcome break, adding : “I would love to come back here, you have an idea of what you are coming to which is a bonus!”

Teresa’s advice for anyone who is anxious about coming to St Mary’s for the first time: “If you are worried by tea-time all your worries will be gone. It is very relaxed.”

 



St Mary's Day Care with Penny Bridge School

15-Jul-2015

St Mary's Day Care with Penny Bridge School

Day Care continues to provide a place where people can join in different activities in a friendly, understanding group. Day care helps maintain the social, physical and emotional well- being of patients and carers.

As part of a schools project, Penny Bridge Primary School came into Day Care sessions over three weeks in May. A group of Year 6 (age 10 to 11) pupils were assigned ‘buddies’ who attended Day Care. Pupils were tasked with learning about their buddy, playing games etc. to build a fact sheet, which they presented back in the third and final session.

Jake, Year 6 pupil: “Before I came to St Mary’s Hospice I already knew that they helped people so that they could have a nice time and be looked after. I was excited to go and could not wait to meet my buddy. His name is Alan and I really enjoyed getting to know him. The staff at St Mary’s Hospice are really friendly and they take great care of the patients. I have really enjoyed coming. Thank you!” Alan added: “I have really enjoyed talking to Jake.”

Melissa Dixon, Community Fundraiser: “The project worked brilliantly as Day Care attendees and pupils listened and shared stories. Everyone seemed to get so much out of it, and the sessions help reduce any perceived barriers to coming to the hospice – from services to the Orangery - and across all ages.”

Val Stangoe said: “I think it’s just wonderful the buzz of voices, the activities, it seems so much fun. I think this a perfect place for children.”

Day Care attendees enthused about the idea and how the sessions worked: “Wow.. Wonderful organisation, Like Christmas- the anticipation when they came through that door, it was like a flower opening. The smiles, the games, the laughter, the free talking from one to another, age gap!? What age gap! Then words are not enough for their musical performance… The room was alight with such expression and warmth. Whoever thought of this was onto a winner because everyone benefited.” Joyce, Day Care patient.

Anne who also attends Day Care added: “I just want to say having kids here for the last few weeks has been good for all of us.” Anne wrote to the head teacher at Penny Bridge saying the children were a credit to the school and that they “really made us so happy.”

Did you know that £87.34 covers the cost per attendance for a Day Care session?


Nicola's Story

19-Mar-2015

Nicola's Story

Nicola has been coming to St Mary’s Hospice for respite care for many years. And loves the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the hospice and feels like it’s home from home, where nothing is too much trouble including visits from her pet dog Ruben!

“Coming in for respite care means that any medical problems can be looked at and medication tweaked but all in a home from home environment. It’s lovely. I get one to one nursing care, and this takes the pressure off my family. This is very important to me, as they have peace of mind knowing I am safe and well looked after.”

Nicola’s favourite room is room one which has beautiful views: “The rooms are lovely and very relaxed, with space for your personal things and a notice board for pictures of family and friends. It’s things like that, that make a difference. The food is delicious, the puddings are amazing! You can have absolutely anything you want. If sometimes you feel a bit off, and you don’t know what you want June will bring up snacks. Nothing ever seems too much trouble.”

The care here is first class and nothing is too much trouble, my medical needs are looked after. There is lots of tlc, staff take the time to talk and listen to you. There is always a smile and a hug waiting”

“I also attend day care, as I can’t work this gives me some sort of structure and something to look forward to. I love it!”

“If anyone was nervous about coming here I would say to relax, and don’t be frightened to ask for anything. The hospice is a lovely and friendly place and helps your quality of life. Also the Hospice provides support for families, and they get looked after too!”

Nicola’s family is involved in Levens Valley Support Group, which has been a tremendous support for St Mary’s Hospice in raising essential funds so that we can continue and expand our care and services


Alan's Story

12-Mar-2015

Alan's Story

Lindale's Alan Oliver has been attending St Mary's Hospice Wednesday Afternoon Club for around three years. The 73-year-old, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when he was in his 40s, recalls: "I started to notice some symptoms in 1987 when I had periods of losing my eye sight and a feeling of numbness in my face."

Alan, who at the time was a partner in a busy accountancy firm in Milton Keynes, was eventually referred to a neurologist who diagnosed his MS almost immediately. "The MS didn't impact on my life or work straight away but these days I have slowed down a lot, I find it difficult to read and need a lot of aids, and my mobility is limited too,” says Alan.

While the progression of his condition forced Alan to take early retirement in 1992, he continued working as a consultant until 1999.

He was also a keen member of Kendal's Gilbert & Sullivan Society until seven years ago when his mobility became too poor for him to pursue his hobby.

He explains: "The MS has gone to my legs now and I rely far too much on walking frames and wheelchairs to get around. I have lost a lot of my mobility the last few years, I used to enjoy a game of bowls but can't manage that anymore either." In fact, these days, Alan is virtually housebound which is why attending the hospice group every fortnight means so much to him. He explains: "It's a wonderful afternoon out which benefits me, as it is a chance to meet other people and socialise a little, but it also helps my wife, as for four or five hours she can relax and not have to worry about me."

Alan explains that he has had a number of falls at home in recent years. He adds: "I am very conscious of the fact that she is really my full time carer and it is just so great that she can have a break too." He also enjoys the opportunity to talk to other group members and share any concerns and anxieties he may have. He says: "It is easy to talk to the other people here and especially to the staff and helpers who are just wonderful."

A volunteer driver from St Mary's brings Alan to the hospice and also drives him home. "It means I can get out, otherwise I can so easily be stuck inside,” he adds. When his MS nurse referred him to the hospice group three years ago, Alan admits: "I did wonder if it was right for me with my condition - as it is not immediately life threatening but it is a lovely atmosphere here and I really look forward to coming."


Ann's story

12-Mar-2015

Ann's story

St Mary’s Ulverston Friendship & Support Group is open to anyone suffering from cancer or a life-shortening illness, carers, as well as those who are recently bereaved.

One of the members of our Ulverston Drop-In Support Group, Ann Kayani, 73, first attended the group after undergoing chemotherapy following a cancer diagnosis. She said: “I first came to the group after I had finished my first regime of chemotherapy. A friend had suggested that the Easy Steps exercise workout would be helpful for my lymphoma.

“I felt weak and very disoriented. The chemo had completely turned my life upside down. Not only that but I found that it was difficult to talk about my cancer to people. Once the obligatory potted plant was presented friends vanished. I found it puzzling and very hurtful. I realise now that people feel awkward and don’t know what to say. Facing their mortality is not something people want to do.

“I wanted a forum where I was free to talk about my cancer if I needed to. This was where I found the group so helpful. It wasn’t that I needed to talk about it constantly but being in an atmosphere where you felt free to bring things up if they occurred was a great relief.

“The friendship and support the group gave me has been wonderful and has helped me get through more chemotherapy and surgery. I don’t think I could have managed without it.”


Jeannette's story

12-Mar-2015

Jeannette's story

ONE of the members of our Ulverston Drop-In Support Group, Jeannette Dale, told us what attending the group meant for her after she lost her husband in 2010. She said: “When I lost Colin I was numb and as low as I could go. I joined the support group and made friends who were in the same position as me and knew how I felt. It gave me the courage to go on.”

Now Jeanette actually leads the Drop-In session herself and is happy to do so: “Now I feel I’m giving something back and helping others who are coping with illness or facing life alone. I have found that while I am helping others I think about them instead of my own worries! Long may it continue!”


Kath's story

12-Mar-2015

Kath's story

Barrow mum-of-two Kath McFadyen spent the last two weeks of her life at St Mary's Hospice last October.

Kath, who touched the lives of thousands in the community in her role as a Weight Watchers leader, was just 43 when she died of cancer on October 24th, 2013.

Her sister Andrea Wilkinson, 39, recalls how she felt when Kath was admitted to the hospice for respite care. She says: “The word hospice is so scary. When Kath was admitted it was the first time I'd ever been to St Mary's and I admit I was really surprised.

“It is such a beautiful, peaceful place. When I walked into Kath's room her patio doors were open and she could look out at the garden and birds outside. “Even working around the clock as a family, me, my mum and Kath's husband Steve could never have provided the care for Kath that the hospice gave her. “She had everything you could ask for and was very impressed by the talents of your chef - being a Weight Watchers leader she was quite demanding!

“Despite the image you have in your mind about a hospice, there was an awful lot of laughter when we were with her and her children Sam and Emily felt really comfortable up there. We could even take the dogs up to visit her. But one very special vistor that Kath seemed to be hanging on to meet was her great niece – my first granddaughter, who was born just days before Kath died.

“The care she got at the end when her time came was so wonderful. We had total privacy with her and the time with her that we needed.”


Liz's story

12-Mar-2015

Liz's story

Liz Dixon’s mum Betty Hawitt was cared for at St Mary’s Hospice in 2006 after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Liz says: “Mum had had two bouts of breast cancer previously and had been given the all clear. But then in 2005 she started feeling quite unwell and in January 2006 was diagnosed with lung cancer. She passed away just months later in April when she was 77. Mum bore her illness with great dignity and courage – she was a truly remarkable woman. “As the cancer progressed she was given a bed at St Mary’s.

Mum didn’t really want to go into the hospice. But we managed to persuade her that it would help to get her symptoms under control and manage her pain relief more effectively. And after a few days at St Mary’s she didn’t want to come home! She felt safe, cared for and comfortable. “Mum wanted us to be with her all the time and the staff kindly put a little bed in her room so my brother David, I or other family members, could stay with her day and night. “Every day the chef would come and ask mum what she’d like. Nothing was too much trouble and we joked that it was like a five star hotel! All the staff are so very sensitive and understand everyone’s needs.

“It may sound a little odd but we had some really happy times with mum in the hospice in those last few weeks, some really wonderful moments. On one occasion we asked the staff if mum’s grandson Jack could come into the hospice and play the piano for her – which she loved. All the patients, not just mum, really enjoyed this impromptu performance.

“Being at the hospice also gave us the opportunity to talk to mum about her wishes and at the end she was ready to go. “After mum had passed away we were so grateful to the hospice for everything they had done for mum that, as a family, we wanted to be able to give a little back so that they can continue their wonderful work.

“We immediately started thinking about fundraising and my brother David came up with the idea of doing a sponsored row from Walney to the Isle of Man. The idea snowballed from there and in the end we raised in excess of £16,000 for the hospice – although we didn’t actually make it to the Isle of Man due to the weather conditions! I know mum would be very proud of what we’ve done in her name.”


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