Anne Harris's Story - Her Mother

My name is Anne Harris and I’m a nurse. I have worked for the health service for the last 40 years. My mum who passed away sadly last, 1st February last year, having been cared for by the health service for over 10 years with dementia.

When mam was hospitalised initially, we were concerned for the care she received in the acute hospital, in that the older person isn’t so much valued in the acute hospital setting and the care, it would, maybe considered that they’re second rate citizens, I’m not sure how you would name it but certainly the care that she received wasn’t good in the acute hospital sector. So it was a challenge for us and we felt as a family that we were fighting with the services all the time to give her better care and so on. So finally we asked that she would be transferred to a nursing home. She had been at home until this time. We asked could, they wanted to transfer her to a nursing home and it was interesting because the nursing homes weren’t prepared to accept her at the level of, she was at at that point in time. They felt they couldn’t meet her needs so we were very worried about this and a number of nursing homes turned her down for a bed. And finally I met a colleague, who was a Director of Nursing, at a conference and I was telling her about the situation and she agreed to take my mum to her nursing home and, to be honest, mam had the best three years of her life in that nursing home.

But what I really wanted to talk about was her end of life care and the palliative end of things because it was really so well, she was so well cared for. It was wonderful and even up to the very last day, there were a number of times when she could have gone to hospital and the nursing home agreed with us as her family that they would keep her at home and try and address the needs as they arose, antibiotics and whatever else was needed.

So that was the way it went until the very end. The final week, I would imagine, of her care, the nursing home agreed to bring in palliative care because they saw that she was deteriorating and we knew she was deteriorating ourselves. She had lost all mobility again in that last while. She had lost all cognisance of who we were. She had lost her speech but it was interesting, the day before she died, I hope I don’t get emotional talking about it but, the day before she died, she was sitting in a wheelchair and I got very upset looking at her because I knew she was near the end and I said, you know, mam are you ok? and she said, I had put my head down because I didn’t want her to see me crying and when I put my head down she stroked my hair and she said ‘its ok, I’m happy to go’.

She knew right up to the end what was happening. She couldn’t verbalise but she certainly understood and she understood that she was getting good care, because you could see she was happy.