When Gill Payne was a patient in the hospice in early 2021 she really wanted to share her experience of that time and decided to record these video clips before she went back home. When Gill became less well, she returned to the hospice later in the year where she died. We are grateful to Gill and to her family for their permission to share her story. 

We have a series of video clips of Gill on this page talking about her time at the hospice, each of which is followed by a transcription.

How were you and your family supported by Katharine House?

"It is a shock to the family when they realise that they can’t look after their parent and there does come a time, I think, where there has to be a split. There was for Martin and myself. Umm, we got to a point where we just had to have a break away from one another because it had become too intense; the whole part of our lives was all around the illness and it was all-consuming. We didn’t talk about anything else and he got to the point where as soon as a doctor rang, or the hospital rang, he would just cry. And from my point of view that destroyed me every time I saw him because I blame myself for that.

"Of course, the family would say, ‘Oh, come and stay with us,’ but that wouldn’t have solved it. It’s not going to go away because you’ve got an extra member of the family helping. Sometimes it needs a break so you’ve got time to gather your thoughts, stand back and look at what’s really happening and, like what I got from Katharine House, was the help to be able to talk about it and mental help, if you like, to gather all the thoughts together and see where’s best next to go with some expert advice. But the thing with Katharine House, they didn’t talk at you. I think that’s a huge difference."

How did your community nurse specialist help?

"It was so cool because she was able to tell from that phone call that I was at the end of my tether. You know, I’d gone as far as I was going and she arranged for me to come in here very quickly. Very quickly! And I think that saved me, to be honest. Because I will be quite up front; if I’d gone into a hospital at that time, I don’t think I would have come out. In fact, I’m sure I wouldn’t have done. I would probably have given up at that point."

After receiving respite care at Katharine House, how has your attitude changed towards hospice care?

"There’s no comparison to then and now. I mean, then, I did everything totally wrong. Absolutely everything! Just totally wrong. Now, when I leave I shall be quite sad because I feel that I’ve made some good friends here and it’s been a really pleasant experience and that’s going to sound really odd to anybody listening to this, I should imagine. But it has been a pleasant experience and I’ve got nothing bad to say about it. And when the time comes, I hope sincerely that this is where I can come and spend my last hours. Umm, I can’t think of anything nicer to be quite honest. So I would have absolutely no fear of it now, at all. And anybody who asks me, I would tell them the same thing. In fact, I might tell them, even if they don’t ask me.

"I think when my time comes - umm, and it will - it comes to everybody, a huge chunk of the fear of that time has gone. Don’t get me wrong; I shall fight to the bitter end, but, when my time comes, I will know. I have a sense of peace and acceptance that when that does come I’m going to a better place. And I don’t worry now; it’s totally different.

"I can’t explain it really, but it is taking that huge feeling of, you know, ‘Oh my God, what happens if I die?’ If I die, I die, but there will be a different attitude inside of me now. And even my husband’s noticed, so as far as I’m concerned that’s a good thing. And he’s certainly not getting weepy every time he speaks about it now, which is a huge step forward."

What would you like other people to know about hospice care?

"There are people, though, who are dying and the care they get here is second to none. But there is also this chunk of people who will need Katharine House for other reasons and I think that this is the message that perhaps is not getting out there. That’s certainly something I’m going to try and help with and I shall offer my services if anyone thinks that perhaps a husband and wife would benefit from - you know, they could come around for a cup or tea and talk about what occurred, because they need to know.

"And I think it would help the families certainly, because they wouldn’t have a clue. My own family didn’t, except the fear - and obviously that went away very quickly actually."

Is there anything you would like to add?

"The food’s excellent, by the way. The food’s excellent! Again, things like that matter. It’s the norm, isn’t it? What do you do when you’re staying somewhere? You talk about the food you eat - and this is the thing that I think is important; to the rest of the family, too. That’s life! This is it - it’s life. It’s not death. I think it’s important."

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