St Albans couple, David and Carey Boswell are now passionate advocates for The Hospice of St Francis having witnessed at close hands the care David’s mother Gretta Boswell, received there in 2012.
Gretta flew back into the UK following a holiday in Portugal with her husband Robert in the spring of 2012 and, having felt unwell abroad, went straight to her doctor. Within a few days she was diagnosed with cancer and admitted to a local hospital for treatment. Unfortunately, at this point though the cancer was so advanced that the consultant advised she went home, explaining there was little more that could be done for her.
Her family were worried about looking after her complex care needs and went to visit their GP for help. He advised them that a stay in a hospice bed would benefit and was instrumental in referring Gretta to The Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted, the only Inpatient unit able to look after patients with life-limiting illnesses from St Albans.
David, a software consultant, explains, “After mum was sent home from hospital as a family we were really struggling. Not only had the diagnosis come out of the blue, we were now left in a position where our mother was in constant pain and needed specialist care. Our GP was absolutely amazing. He knew that the Hospice of St Francis would be exactly the right place for mum and give us the support we needed as a family.”
“After just an hour in the Hospice we felt we could relax. The staff took care of mum’s needs and we felt a weight had been lifted off our shoulders. Her old personality appeared again and she didn’t feel or look ill.
Dad was also well looked after and was able to sleep at the Hospice and the catering team, led by Head chef, Chris Took, prepared hot comforting meals for both my parents. We were able to spend quality family time together rather than stressing about having to sort out mum’s medical and care needs, which was a huge relief.
“As well as providing 24 hour care for mum, and supporting dad, the Hospice team arranged for Carey and me, to get married in the Hospice chapel. We’d been planning a wedding for the September of 2012 but wanted to bring it forward so mum could witness our special day. It took place on the 5th July and was a lovely occasion and full of special memories for us and our three young children.
“Mum stayed at the Hospice for five days before she passed away on 8 July 2012, just seven weeks after diagnosis, at the age of 69. We’d never done anything for charity in this way before but were blown away by the care she received and have been driven ever since to help raise money to fund the specialist end of life care the Hospice provides.
We established from the medical team that the care mum received would have cost between £3,500 - £5k and have set ourselves a goal of raising that, by various means (cycling London-Paris, taking part in the Hospice’s Strictly Learn Dancing competition), in mum’s memory.