Grant and his mum Gladys

Caring for Gladys

Martlets cared for Grant’s mum Gladys who was an outpatient at the Hospice. Martlets also supported Grant as her full-time carer at home. Grant shares his experience of caring for his mum and explains how Martlets offered support. 

“Mum had terminal cancer and we were told she only had a year to live. It was a really difficult time, and I took the decision to leave work and become her full-time carer. Mum was still having chemotherapy and radiotherapy to try and prolong her life. She was determined to celebrate her grandchildren’s milestone birthdays – one was turning 18 and the other 21. 

Being a carer for someone you love with a terminal diagnosis can be really stressful. You’re not only dealing with the practicalities of care, but also your own emotions as you know you’re going to lose them. Having Martlets’ support was a big help. 

Being a carer is a difficult job as it’s so time and energy consuming. You want to stay positive for the person you love but you’re juggling so many practical issues along with your feelings about their life coming to an end. You don’t get much time to process your emotions. You’re so busy having to think about the day-to-day and what needs doing.  

I needed to get my head around all the medications that needed administering at different times of the day. Also, the amounts can go up and down with cancer medications, depending on symptoms. There’s also cooking, cleaning, personal care needs and a lot of admin; I needed to sort out benefits payments, medical appointments, bills and so on. It all mounts up and then at night my emotions about it all would surface. When I went to bed I found it difficult to sleep. I’d almost have one eye open and be listening for the slightest noise in case Mum needed something.  

Martlets saw Mum regularly at the Hospice as a day patient which gave me some much-needed time off and she really enjoyed the craft sessions and social interaction they offered alongside the medical care. 

Mum was looked after by Martlets back in 2008, way before the COVID pandemic. She was able to go in and access their day services as an outpatient. When she was feeling well enough a minibus would come and pick her up on a Monday morning and take her into the Hospice. They would check her medications and the clinical side of things. They’d also provide lunch, craft sessions, and a lot of social interaction which she loved. It was a day out for her with activities to do and a chance to chat to other people in the same position. There was also access to counselling, care workers and so on.

I’ve heard that during COVID all these services were adapted so that patients still had access to them via home visits or via Zoom video sessions. It’s good to know that patients still had access to all of this during the pandemic. As for Mum and me these services were such a brilliant means of support. 

Sometimes I would go in and pick her up at the end of the day and everyone was so welcoming. The staff would ask how I was coping and genuinely cared about me as well as Mum. 

Knowing Mum was enjoying a day at Martlets meant I could catch up on my own thoughts and perhaps get a coffee and talk to a friend to unwind a bit. It was so valuable to have those hours to myself to get practical things done, but also to step beyond the carer role. 

I still have a glass dish that Mum decorated during a craft session at Martlets with a butterfly in the centre. It’s precious to me and a beautiful keepsake that reminds me of Mum and of the joy she got from her creative sessions at Martlets. 

Glass dish with a butterfly in the centre

Mum died peacefully at home which is where she wanted to be with me and my sister there. 

I looked after Mum at home in her last weeks with the support of district nurses and the community team. Knowing that I could pick up the phone and call the Martlets team for advice was so reassuring. 

After Mum died, I decided to volunteer for the Hospice and I now work for Martlets’ fundraising team full-time as Gifts in Wills & Grants Executive. It’s a job I love, and I feel proud to work for a local charity that helps so many local families like mine.” 

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Published 09/06/2022