Terminally ill Derbyshire mum planned for death to take 'stress' away from family

The daughter of a terminally ill Derbyshire woman, shared how her mum planning for her own death before she passed away, helped to take ‘stress’ away from the family.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 4:37 pm

Diane Matthews decided to spend the rest of her life at Ashgate Hospicecare, after she was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a rare degenerative neurological condition similar to Motor Neurone Disease, which first started to develop in 2012.

The Killamarsh mum’s honesty and openness when talking about her death helped to take stress away from her family, meaning they could concentrate on making their final memories together while the hospice cared for her.

Diane’s daughter Lorna has opened up about her mum’s end-of-life journey and the care the family received at the charity, to help change attitudes towards talking about death, as part of Dying Matters Week.

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Diane and Graham.
Diane and Graham.

Her condition deteriorated last year during the pandemic and Diane was admitted to Ashgate Hospicecare for a respite break, so doctors could help manage the severe pain she was experiencing.

Nine weeks later, the mum returned home to her family for 10 days before going back to the hospice’s Inpatient Unit; where she was told she had hours left to live.

Despite this, Diane spent another 18 days at the hospice with her close family by her side, until she passed away on March 3 this year, aged 65.

Lorna said: “Ashgate really took care of all of us a family and there aren’t words to describe how grateful we all are for that.

Diane and her husband Graham.

“We took care of mum for as long as we could at home and it was somewhat difficult to let go of the reins during the last few months, but she couldn’t have been in better hands.

“It was always her wish to die at Ashgate.

"She didn’t want to pass away at home, the hospital was a no-no, she’d only ever heard amazing things said about the hospice, so it was always the best place for her.

“In the end mum could not have been in a better place at the end of her life, there was just no other option that came near.”

Diane with her daughters Lorna and Faye.

She shared how the hospice’s housekeepers, volunteers, doctors and healthcare assistants made her feel part of the Ashgate family.

Lorna continued: “The staff and volunteers looked after us as much as they did mum.

"They were also endlessly patient with her, as by this point her speech was intelligible most of the time, but no one ever rushed her or left her without making sure they had understood what she had said.

“They took the time to learn what food and drinks she liked too and asked her every day if she wanted a bed wash and to get dressed or just stay as she was.

Daughter Lorna pictured with mum Diane, son Andrew, daughter-in-law Jo, husband Graham, daughter Faye, son-in-law David and grandchildren Emily and Oliver.

"She was given as much choice as possible for her day-to-day decisions, and she was treated with respect and dignity throughout.”

Ashgate Hospicecare joined organisations across the UK between May 10 and 16 to raise awareness about the importance of opening up the conversation around death, dying and bereavement for Dying Matters Awareness Week.

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