“The care people receive at St Giles is something you can’t put into words – they said we would all be treated like family and that’s exactly what it was like.”
Lichfield police officer, Gavin Farley, is supporting Celebrate Lives Lived this year in memory of his mother Sheila Watson, who died from leukaemia at St Giles Hospice in June 2020.
Sheila’s husband Jim, who had dementia, passed away at Wyndley Care Home on Christmas Day 2019 and her condition deteriorated over the next few days. She spent a week in Good Hope Hospital before moving to St Giles.
Gavin said: “Luckily mum had been having counselling support from St Giles following her prognosis and they had been able to explain to her what St Giles Hospice was and challenge her preconceptions about hospices and hospice care.
“She spent a day at St Giles where she could look around the facilities and visit a typical bedroom there, and she loved it. When the time came to go to St Giles she was happy and straight away she was put at her ease – the staff and volunteers were all so caring.”
Gavin added: “When she first arrived it was a difficult time because mum was grieving for my stepdad and wanted to go to his funeral, but she wasn’t well enough to go.
“But the staff did everything they could to help. I went to the funeral and filmed it all and they set up a screen in the chapel and people came back to St Giles rather than going to a wake and we replayed it there for mum and did another service for her.
“Obviously it was a very sad occasion for us all, but mum was absolutely beaming – she was so glad that she was able to see the funeral after all and that her friends could be with her. It was so special because she knew that she probably wouldn’t see many of them again.”
Gavin added that although most people see going into a hospice as marking the end of life, for his mother St Giles was the beginning of a new phase of her life. “Despite her illness she enjoyed being there and made so many new friends,” he said. “It wasn’t just a place of sadness, it was a place of joy as well.
“Everyone is so caring and nothing is too much trouble. To mark VE Day, the hospice held its own celebrations and the staff did my mum’s hair and makeup, which she really appreciated. Plus, when they found out that Monsters Inc. was her favourite film, they set it up on a laptop so that she could watch it in her room. It’s these little things that made such a massive difference.
“The staff at St Giles really went above and beyond what they had to do for their jobs – they were carers but became friends to us all, because they were as thoughtful and supportive to the families just as much as their patients.
“We’ll definitely be supporting Celebrate Lives Lived this year, not only to thank St Giles for the way they looked after my mum, but as a way of celebrating her life and memory too. Despite the sadness of her passing, St Giles has so many good memories for us.
“My wife Angela and I were filled with admiration and we’ll both start volunteering there once COVID is finally over. The care people receive at St Giles is something you can’t put into words – they said we would all be treated like family and that’s exactly what it was like.”