Heather’s mum Audrey, 92, had been in good health all her life and was living mostly independently. But after a few bad falls, she became increasingly frail and was referred to Mountbatten for palliative care. 

She was supported by Mountbatten’s Care at Home team and community nurses until she died. Now, Heather shares the difference that care made to her mum and their family. 

“When we knew Mum couldn’t live alone anymore, she moved in with my sister. She needed help with showering and getting dressed, which my sister would mainly manage but I would go over a couple of days a week to help. She would also stay with my brother some weekends and we were managing at first.”

“She slowly got more frail and unwell - it was taking more and more time for us to get her up and dressed in the mornings.  Taking care of her started to become more difficult, as we were all trying our best to help while maintaining busy jobs.”

After a particularly nasty fall, a nurse from Mountbatten visited the family to do an assessment and agreed that they needed more help. Audrey started to receive twice-daily visits from carers in the Care at Home team, who helped her to get up and dressed in the morning and then get ready for bed in the evening.

“As soon as Mountbatten came in, we felt we could just be her daughters again. It was such a relief for us not to have to worry because we knew they took such good care of her, and she was always clean, happy, and not in pain. 

“Every time the carers came in, they introduced themselves to her or said hello to her before they did anything with us. They knew she loved football and dogs, and they always had a joke with her.

“They made her smile. She didn’t say a lot about them, but I could tell by her smile – the biggest smile - that she was happy and comfortable with them.

“Mum was treated like a person, not a patient. That’s the way it should be.”

When Audrey had another bad fall, paramedics wanted to take her to the hospital for scans and recovery, but she didn’t want to go.

“Mum knew, and so did we, that if she went into the hospital, it would be a long time before we got her out, or she would possibly die there. She hated hospitals; there couldn’t be anything worse.

“Mountbatten made it possible for her to stay home. She couldn’t get out of bed, so they upped their visits to four times a day to nurse her. And as always, the care that she got was just out of this world. 

“Mum loved a glass of rosé wine – she would really look forward to her glass of rosé each day. When she was dying, one of the nurses gave us mouth wipes to help us keep her mouth moisturised, and she told us we could dip it into a glass of wine and give her some. I thought: can we do that?

“We did, and although she was tired, she lit up, and you could tell she loved it.

“If we hadn’t had that nurse there, with that understanding of end-of-life care, we would never have done that. Without Mountbatten, Mum wouldn’t have been able to die at home, with her family around her, and having had a sip of her favourite wine before she died.”

Only a few days after Audrey’s last fall, she took a sudden turn for the worse overnight. Heather, her sister, and her niece were with her when she died in the early hours of the morning. 

“We didn’t expect her to deteriorate so suddenly, and in the end, we weren’t sure whether she had died or not. We called Mountbatten in the middle of the night, and the nurses were there within 20 minutes.

“They always knew exactly what they were doing. Throughout those last months with Mum, they could always give us reassurance and help with pain or move her when we couldn’t.

“I can’t say what a difference it made to our family to know there was an expert just at the end of the phone any time of the day or night. And that we could just be her children, not her carers, at the end of her life.”

Our community services support families to stay at home in Southampton and large parts of Hampshire, such as Eastleigh, Romsey, and Winchester, with any life-limiting illness, including those affected by frailty and old age.

Your donations, fundraising and volunteering helps people like Audrey to be treated as an individual until the end of their life. Thank you.