One family believes they would not have coped with the tragic loss of three relatives without the support of Bolton Hospice.

Bolton Hospice is facing cutbacks if a funding gap cannot be plugged. The Bolton News is running a campaign to support the hospice and raise the money needed.

Nicola Holstead, 48, spoke to The Bolton News in August about how invaluable the services provided by Bolton Hospice are before and after the death of loved ones.

Nicola and her family, from Sharples, have been provided with bereavement care since 2019.

Nicola said: “Unfortunately I have had three close family members in the hospice, in 2019, 2020 and 2021 which passed over the Covid years.

“My mum, Gwen Haydock, had been terminally ill for about six years with a cancer diagnosis and had a steady decline really with her illness from January 2019 and it was suggested that she received hospice care at the end of that journey, which was scary because as soon as you hear the word hospice, its just a scary word, you just think of death.

“But actually  it was a really safe place, it was the best kind of end-of-life care that my mum could have received, for her and for the family as well.

“She only actually spent about nine days in the hospice, but she felt really safe, she was really well looked after, although it was a really sad time, the hospice staff were amazing, and they made it the best possible experience she could have.

“She passed away in May 2019.

"My sister-in-law, Kerry Haydock, the year after, received end of life hospice care after a diagnosis of a brain tumour which she was ill with during the height of the pandemic.

"Her family’s preference was for her to be nursed at home, the hospice nursing team came in to nurse her from home.

“She did receive some therapeutic care within the hospice such as massages and mindfulness before the deterioration in her condition.

“The year after, my mother-in-law, Veronica Holstead, with a terminal diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, also received hospice care.

The Bolton News: Nicola with her three children George, Harry and GraceNicola with her three children George, Harry and Grace (Image: Nicola Holstead)

“She was in the hospice for about three weeks, she had  a respite period which was really beneficial for her and the family

“The care we received from the hospice it was just amazing.

“I don’t think we could have got through that period without that support because it was a really difficult three years.

“Within that time were some really difficult, dark moments and you’re never quite sure when that journey will end.

“You pull together and do everything you can to help that person.”

Nicola added: “I am a nurse but I have never had much experience with hospices.

"The overall feeling of the hospice is warmth, support, protection and actually all of those things are really important at the end of life journey.”

The Bolton News: Nicola Holstead, 48, from SharplesNicola Holstead, 48, from Sharples (Image: Nicola Holstead)

Nicola said having the hospice made a difference in several ways.

She said: “I think the hospice alleviated a lot of pressure for the family, you know the hospice is there so you know you can leave that family member even if only for a short duration of time, I knew I could leave my mum there for any duration of time and she would be well looked after.

The Bolton News: “Its supportive for families but ultimately for that person in need of the hospice as well.

“One of the main things as a family that I think we got from the hospice, before and after, was bereavement support.

“I honestly don’t think we would have got through those three years without the support."

Nicola has shared what the word "hospice" means to her.

She said: “The word that pops up when I think of the hospice is ‘family’, it’s not death actually and you think it would be but its not ‘death’ and its not ‘dying’, its ‘family’, because I just feel that the hospice has got us through a really difficult time.

The Bolton News: Nicola with her mum and daughter GraceNicola with her mum and daughter Grace (Image: Nicola Holstead)

“Other words include ‘support’, ‘caring’, ‘compassion’, ‘warmth’, ‘connection’, and I think of all these words first before I think of end-of-life care.”

When asked about her thoughts on the struggles the hospice is currently facing, Nicola added: “It is just so sad, I think it is the kind of place that is hidden away until you are in a position where you’re using it, you don’t realise what care they provide.

“I didn’t and I just think if you were in that horrible unfortunate situation where you had a family member that would benefit from hospice care and they weren’t able to get that bed, for me it is the difference between a good end of life journey and possibly potentially not a very good end of life journey and that stays with you forever.

Even losing one bed, never mind more than that or losing services it doesn’t bare thinking about for me, I just think it needs all the support it can, to offer other families the service that we got."

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