“We cannot fault the hospice staff in doing all they could to make Mum feel as comfortable as possible,” explained Scott Billison, whose mum, Sally Billison, received support from St Elizabeth Hospice until her death, from motor neurone disease (MND), aged 57-years-old, in May 2023.
Annually, St Elizabeth Hospice cares for more than 4,000 patients and their families throughout East Suffolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney. This care sees the independent Suffolk charity providing free services – whenever and wherever it is needed, whether at home, in the community or at the hospice – to those living with a progressive or life-limiting illness.
“Initially, from January 2023, Mum attended the hospice’s Community Care Unit once a week, on a Thursday, before eventually she moved to the Inpatient Unit in late April,” said Scott, who is from Capel St Mary, near Ipswich.
“Mum loved the atmosphere in the Community Care Unit. It provided respite and a change of scenery from home and a chance for us, as a family, to recharge our batteries a little.
“Mum’s career saw her work as a social worker for 30 years, as well as working for Suffolk Libraries, so she was a good judge of social care and she really appreciated the hospice’s support for her and our whole family.
“All the staff were attentive and helped us understand Mum’s condition and they provided great guidance and reassurance during an uncertain time.
“When at the hospice, the staff were able to move Mum to a larger room which was better suited to her condition. The hospice staff were so caring and proactive in helping Mum to feel comfortable, as well as this they went the extra mile to provide support to her as a person.
“Mum loved animals and following a discussion between myself and the hospice team, we came up with an idea for organising for animals to visit Mum at the hospice, so she had something to enjoy despite the progression of her condition.
“The hospice team looked into this and were able to organise a visit from two ‘mini-donks’ – Pixie and Millie – from Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing, as well as two guinea pigs, to see Mum in the hospice garden.
“It was a lovely day which made a real difference to Mum, as well as some of the other hospice patients who were able to meet the animals too. It was made even more special as the staff managed to keep the visit secret from Mum until the moment the animals arrived, so it was such a lovely surprise for her – she even managed to name one of the guinea pigs Hazel!
“While regularly attending the Community Care Unit, Mum struck up a friendship with Mark Wall, who also has MND. They kept in touch via WhatsApp, which I am sure helped each other deal with their conditions and focus on the brighter side of their current situations.
“In fact after Mum’s passing, alongside the hospice team, I helped organise for Mark to attend a game at his beloved Ipswich Town Football Club, where they secured a dramatic win over Cardiff City FC.
“It was a fantastic experience attending the game with Mark and his family. Ipswich Town Football Club was really supportive in helping us to organise the day for Mark, and really went the extra mile for us. Kieran McKenna, Mark Ashton and the players all took the time to chat to us and take photos before the game too which was brilliant.
“Topped off with a 3-2 comeback victory, it’s a day I certainly won’t forget for a while, and I know Mark and his family had a great time too.”