“Manorlands staff move heaven and earth to make sure patients and their families feel safe, cared for and at home.”

Our Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice provided Michelle Vann’s parents, Janis and Mark Lawson, with outreach nursing and respite care before they ended their lives at the hospice. This is their family’s story in Michelle’s own words.

Michelle Vann on her wedding day with her late mum Janis
Michelle on her wedding day with her late mum Janis.
Michelle Vann's dad Mark with her daughter
Michelle's dad Mark with her daughter.

We as a family first heard about Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice from the Macmillan Cancer Support team who were visiting Dad at home when he was diagnosed with penile cancer in 2010. My dad received respite treatment at the hospice and eventually passed away there.

In 2016, we used the hospice again when my Mum was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She too had respite care and passed away there three short months after her diagnosis.

“I thought the hospice would be a depressing place”

Before attending Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice, my idea of a hospice was vague and I thought they would be very depressing places where people went to die. My whole family were surprised this wasn’t so.

Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice is a beautiful house in a beautiful location with an amazing garden and surroundings. The staff, nurses and doctors were all lovely, and gave so much more than I ever dreamed they would.

They were so attentive and supportive that both my parents said being at the hospice was like a home away from home, and they were both happy and comfortable in their last few days.

“Nothing was too much for Manorlands staff”

The staff at the hospice particularly amazed me with how attentively they listened to my Mum and Dad about their wishes, preferences and inner feelings – which must have been hard for them to share with me and my brother without causing us any more pain.

With Dad the staff were remarkable as not only did he have penile cancer but he was also paralysed from the waist down as a result of a car accident that occurred when I was a baby.

Due to his paralysis, he couldn’t feel any pain from the huge tumours that had grown, so the staff worked 2:1 with him to meet his disability needs as well as provide expert cancer care. They followed his wishes and totally accepted his routines of care. Nothing was too much for the staff; he was always made to feel comfortable and treated as an individual.

As for Mum, she was so violently sick with her cancer symptoms that no medicine seemed to ease it, so the doctors and Sue Ryder Nurses agreed to put a nasogastric tube down her nose and into her stomach to drain her stomach fluids. They did this – up to three or four times an hour sometimes – to enable my Mum to still have the pleasure of eating and drinking without constantly being sick. The staff brought her ice cream any time she asked and one night she had a cheeky glass of prosecco, which she always loved.

Ongoing bereavement support

After my parents passed away, Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice provided us as a family with support and time to grieve, and gave me and my daughter counselling for our loss. We also attended memorial ceremonies for both my parents.

If I was to tell people about Manorlands, I would say it’s an amazing place with amazing staff who work so hard together to give patients and their families privacy, dignity and space during very difficult times.

Nothing is ever too much trouble for the staff, volunteers, doctors and nurses: they will move heaven and earth to make sure everyone feels safe, secure, cared for and at home.

From experience, I can say that, when a loved one is seriously poorly, it can be a very traumatic time for all; it’s scary, overwhelming and very upsetting for everyone involved. Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice helped me and my family through this twice and that’s why I, as a volunteer fundraiser, will continue to give as much back to the hospice as I possibly can.

Learn more about Manorlands Hospice

Michelle Vann

Daughter of patients

Michelle Vann

Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice provided Michelle Vann’s parents, Janis and Mark Lawson, with outreach nursing and respite care before they ended their lives at the hospice.