In her own words, Mary tells us about the support she received from our Mountbatten at Home team when faced with her own mum's death.

“The first time the Mountbatten at Home team came to my mum’s house, I burst into tears. ‘You must have been relieved at getting their much needed support’, you might assume. Actually, I was devastated they’d come.

Only a month before, my mum Agnes was diagnosed with bowel cancer so advanced that no treatment could be given. We were all shocked beyond belief, but as her condition rapidly declined, my role as carer soon became our new normal. Mum had always been incredibly independent, so somehow this new intimacy we shared as I helped her in and out of her clothes and accompanied her to the bathroom, were moments I wanted to hang onto. But a palliative care nurse at the hospital knew that, before long, I wouldn’t be able to cope and referred us to the Mountbatten at Home Team.

And so there I was, sobbing uncontrollably in the kitchen as John, the carer, listened patiently as I told him I didn’t want him to be there. Of course, fast forward a week and I couldn’t imagine life without them. Twice a day, the team would come to our house and, after a quick chat with mum, they would help her with personal hygiene and get her dressed.

Mum, a retired Irish midwife, had always been proud of her appearance, and so depending on the carer, she might also get a blow dry, a bit of lippy, and a dash of eyebrow pencil. Upstairs I’d hear hoots of laughter as the carers ribbed mum about this and that, and she gave back as good as she got. There was never a sense of hurry when the Mountbatten at Home team came; mum received as much or as little care as she needed. And that care also extended to myself and my brother, Chris.

Every week, we’d receive a visit from Lesley or Vicky who were in charge of the team to see how things were faring. As nurses, they had one eye on mum’s medical needs and could advise the palliative care team at the hospice when mum’s health was in decline, or there was an issue with her medication. They also checked in on me and my brother. Moments when I was close to the edge through stress and exhaustion, they’d find solutions either by arranging a volunteer to sit with mum or getting her into the hospice so I could get some respite.

When mum was discharged to go home from her stay at the hospice, none of us thought her passing would come so quickly. I will never forget mum’s last day. Sally the carer tended mum in the hospital bed which had been set up in our living room. With the greatest love and care, Sally brushed mum’s fine, white hair, put on her favourite lippy and finished off with a spray of Estee Lauder White Linen.

The next time the team came, mum would be gone. But we took comfort knowing that her passing was one of peace and dignity, something that would not have been possible without the magnificent work of the Mountbatten at Home Team.”

Thank you to Mary Biles O'Mahony for sharing her story

With most of our care being provided at home, your donations mean families can spend precious time together in the comfort of familiar surroundings. All of our care is provided for free, thanks to the generosity of our Island community and people like you who, every year, raise two thirds of the £8m it costs to provide our services.