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Denise’s story

Shared by Denise’s daughter, Sarah.

My Mum Denise, Neesie to those who knew and loved her, was admitted to Sobell House in October 2014 after her melanoma cancer treatment failed at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford.

Mum was hoping to make the trip home to stay in our local end of life care facility but was unfortunately too poorly for transport, so she spent the last week or so of her life at Sobell House. My two sisters and I were able to stay with Mum the entire time, taking it in turns to sleep by her bedside each night while the other two slept in a room down the corridor. Sobell House became a home-from-home for us as well during Mum’s last days. There was a constant flow of family and friends visiting, and when it was time to let her rest, we’d all gather in the family room to eat takeout and share stories, often ending up with enough pizza or Chinese food leftover to share with the staff.

The staff were amazing, always on hand when we needed them but never intrusive! They helped my sisters and I feel safe and cared for, just as much as they cared for our Mum. We aren’t religious but Mum was, so it was nice to be able to visit the Prayer and Reflection Room down the corridor on Mum’s behalf and say a little prayer for her.

Pictured: Denise
Pictured: Denise and her daughters
Pictured: Denise and Sarah

Just before Mum went to Sobell House, I found out I was pregnant with her first grandchild. Luckily she was able to share five weeks of pregnancy with me – which wasn’t all fun as I spent a lot of the time in her bathroom with morning sickness! – but I’m so glad that before she left this world she knew her dream of becoming a grandmother was coming true. Mum also told me who she wanted to be known as; Nanna Neesie. The staff were so helpful in trying to arrange for me to have a scan of the baby in Mum’s room. Unfortunately this wasn’t possible, but I was so grateful they had tried.

When the end came, and we were a complete mess, the staff were there to support us and gave us as much time as we needed to sit with Mum.

Over the years, my sisters and I have organised some fundraising events for Sobell House to thank the staff for their care, and ensure others who need it can benefit in the same way we did. While it was a horrific time in our lives, Sobell House offered us a safe place to be with our Mum, and it will always hold a special place in my heart for the support they gave Mum, our family, and Mum’s friends.

As Sarah shares, her family made use of our Family Room to relax and spend mealtimes. This spring, we are asking our supporters to help us refurbish our Family Room, which is a vital space for so many families and friends visiting their loved one.

We plan to transform the space by fitting an integrated kitchen, installing sensory lighting, replacing the floor, and providing children with their own dedicated space for toys and books. Our aim is to ensure we can support the number of people using the space for many years to come. If you are able to make a donation and support us with this work we’d be so grateful.