St Catherine's Hospice helped mum’s final wish come true - now it's time to help the Hospice

After the Covid pandemic impacted its fundraising St Catherine’s Hospice at Lostock Hall set a target to recruit 400 new monthly donors. Continuing our series of special reports FIONA FINCH shares the story of one new regular donor.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 4:55 am

Julie Smith will be forever grateful that with the support of St Catherine' s Hospice she was able to honour her mother's final wishes.

That Eileen McCann achieved her desire to die at home is an enduring comfort to her grieving daughter.

Eileen, from Chorley, died in January, at the age of 82 after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in November, 2019.

Eileen McCann achieved her wish to die at home

Julie said: “Right from being diagnosed my mum said to me, I don’t want to die in hospital – I want to be at home, in my own bed. If it had not been for the support I got from St Catherine’s then I wouldn’t have been able to achieve that for her. Today I would be living with that – knowing I’d gone against her wishes.”

“My mum was a very strong person, a very kind person, but she knew her own mind. The last thing I wanted to do was go against what she so clearly wanted. I am just so grateful to the hospice for helping me achieve what was important to her.”

That gratitude explains why Julie is now sharing her experiences as part of the hospice’s new campaign encouraging people to sign up to give a monthly donation.

The campaign, with its slogan Big Issues, Small Details, All the Difference , is putting a spotlight on how St Catherine’s looks after the big issues and small details to make all the difference to local families coping with conditions such as cancer, heart failure and motor neurone disease.

Julie Smith, Eileen's daughter, is backing the Regular Giving appeal

Julie, from Bamber Bridge, was grateful for the support from the hospice’s community clinical nurse specialists, who visit people at home . She especially praised nurse Tracy Rhodes and said: “I remember times being on the phone to them in tears, and they were just so genuine and caring. I can’t get across how much that support meant.”

She continued:“I had a lot of questions too – if you’ve never been around someone who is dying, you don’t know what to expect. Tracy was so knowledgeable, so compassionate. She answered all my questions and helped me to feel more prepared.”

Eileen also experienced care in the hospice. Julie said: “Mum also spent some time on the in-patient unit at St Catherine’s. She was reluctant at first, but we are all so glad she went. They sorted out her medication and helped her to eat a little again. Her stay gave us extra time together at home, which we’re so grateful for.”

The Hospice’s care and support extends beyond bereavement, as Julie also kn ows from experience: She said “After she (mum) died, I pretty much threw myself back into everything – but then ended up having a major wobble. Now I’ve been offered bereavement counselling to help. I didn’t even realise they did that. St Catherine’s are there for you all the way through – when someone is ill, at the end and then they’re still there for you afterwards.”

Lynn Kelly, St Catherine's Hospice Chief Executive

Julie began giving a donation to St Catherine’s each month soon after her mum died. She said: “I know how important having St Catherine’s here is and I want to do my little bit to help other families experience the same valuable support.”

Melanie Holmes, the hospice's Community Services Manager, said: “We are so pleased our team could be there for Eileen and Julie. We know that at the end of life hospital is often not the most suitable place for people to be, or where they would wish to spend their last days. Our community Clinical Nurse Specialist team is here to enable people to be at home if this is what they want - ensuring they are comfortable, that their relatives feel supported and empowered, and working with other health and social care professionals to co-ordinate any other support that is required.”

* St Catherine’s Hospice is an independent charity which needs to raise £4m a year towards its £6m p.a. running costs. It has set a target of recruiting 400 new regular donors. During the Covid pandemic income from donations and community fundraisers has halved. Chief Executive Lynn Kelly said this highlighted the need for an income stream which continues "despite unforeseen circumstances". She said: “It’s so necessary for the services we provide to have that regular income month on month.”

Lynn said all donations little or large will be welcome as they all add up. She emphasised that the Hospice is also grateful to the many local people who organise individual fund raising events which also bring in much needed income.

The Regular Giving campaign slogan

* The hopsice provides specialised palliative and end-of-life care for the people of Chorley, Preston and South Ribble both at the hospice and in the community.

*If you want to become a regular giver and helpSt. Catherine's Hospice reach its target of 400 new donors see www.stcatherines.co.uk or call 01772 629171 or hereFor more information and our series about the Regular Giving campaign see here and here and here