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Rotorua Community Hospice Stories

Stories of the individuals who have touched our lives.

This is Esther's story

This is the story of Esther Johnson written by her daughter-in-law Des, and whānau.

Mum was always a private person. She was cheeky and mischievous, stubborn, and sure. She loved her family, was a devoted Nan who spoiled all her Mokos, and she became “Nan” to lots of the kids in the neighbourhood. She was determined to be herself, always.

She made it clear to us what she wanted should anything ever happen to her. To do things her way, with “No big fuss”.
We were prepared for the inevitability of old age and end of life,
But we weren’t prepared for those things to suddenly change from a distant idea to a reality within a matter of months.

Christmas 2020, Mum was diagnosed with Oral cancer.
By January, Oncology decided there was nothing beneficial that western medicine could offer, and palliative care was recommended and in Early Feb 2021, during a hospital trip, we had our first meeting with Hospice.
Within hours of that first meeting, Jan and Maryann from Hospice were on our doorstep with equipment and much needed reassurance and guidance. These beautiful faces would become part of our new family over the next few months and Mum would soon be sharing *inside jokes* with them and laughing up a storm when they came to visit.

No matter how prepared you think you are, the realities of end-of-life care are different to what you imagine. to suddenly become a carer yourself, while trying to give your loved one the absolute best care possible, can be tough for even the most prepared.
Mentally, spiritually, physically. It can be very overwhelming and all encompassing, not just for your loved one, but as a whanau too.

Thankfully, we had the team at Hospice who were absolute angels, to help.
We had a couple of months where Hospice nurses and personal carers would come every other day  
The team were extremely compassionate and understanding. They always arrived with smiles and a warmth, like that of old friends.
Mum would look forward to Hospice coming each day, referring to them fondly as her “ladies” and joking with them about days gone by while they took care of her and made her feel special.

But “her ladies” weren’t just there for her. They helped the whole family to learn and navigate through this new journey.
Day or night they were there to answer questions and offer support. They shared in our laughter and tears
, handled everything we needed them to, from liaising with doctors, to pampering   and they did it all with skill and empathy.

There is no way we would have been able to care for Mum at home, and give her the dignity and care she deserved, or choices that she wanted, without Hospice.
They were the first to greet us when Mum arrived home from hospital, and were the last to leave after she passed.
And still, months later, they remain in touch to support through grief.

Mum passed peacefully, at home surrounded by family, the way she wanted, in May 2021.
We are forever grateful for Hospice Rotorua for the love, care and compassion they have given and for the truly amazing work they do supporting families in our communities.

Written by Des Johnson, and whānau.

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Rotorua Community Hospice Stories

Stories of the individuals who have touched our lives.