Betty Boyd was born in Wales in 1941, following her mum’s evacuation during the war. Along with her parents and six siblings, the family moved to Seaforth where Betty met Tommy. They married in 1967 and the newlyweds moved back to Wales and settled down.
Betty’s siblings, and their families, remained in Merseyside and Betty and Tommy visited often. Her sister Catherine’s son, Gary, his wife Alison and their son, Michael, were very close to Betty and Tommy.
Alison said: “We always loved seeing Betty and Tommy when they came back to Merseyside. They lived in a beautiful house in rural Wales and were very happy. They never had any children but they adored all their nieces and nephews.”
In 2011, Tommy passed away and Betty moved back to Merseyside to be close to her family. She bought a house in Thornton and spent a lot of time with her sisters, Agnes and Catherine, and her brother, Eric, who lives on the Wirral. But, after 18 months in her new home, Betty became ill and eventually, at 73 years old, was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Alison recalls: “By this time, Betty’s sister, my mother-in-law Catherine, had developed dementia but her other sister, Agnes, lived just round the corner and they met up every day. Betty was very independent and they enjoyed walking to the shops and having a coffee together.”
Betty underwent chemotherapy and the family were hopeful for her recovery but it wasn’t long before the doctors discovered that the cancer had spread to her liver and lungs. She had several operations, which, unfortunately, didn’t work.
“Following an operation to remove her bowel, Betty began to find things more difficult and tiring. She slowly lost the ability to live independently and found it harder to care for herself.”
When the Covid pandemic hit in 2020, Betty was isolated at home. Her treatment stopped and her family felt that she was no longer receiving the continuity of care that she needed. She spoke to her sister Agnes regularly on the phone but it was a very tough time for her being so isolated and not receiving the care she needed.
In 2021, Betty was admitted to Woodlands Hospice to try and get her pain and discomfort under control but she continued to be in pain and was keen to move to St. Joseph’s Hospice where she would be closer to Gary and Alison, and her sisters, Catherine and Agnes.
In September 2021, Betty got her wish and was admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospice and Alison says this is exactly where she wanted to be.
“Living in Thornton, Betty was very familiar with the hospice and wanted to be closer to home and her family. She was welcomed with open arms at St. Joseph’s Hospice. The nurses and carers couldn’t do enough for her and had so much empathy.
“After the challenges of the pandemic, she loved being around people again and made some very special bonds with the carers.”
In October, Betty was one of the first patients at the hospice to be given the opportunity to use its new virtual reality equipment (see page 4). She regularly enjoyed swimming with dolphins with flying through space with her favourite carers.
At the time, Betty said: “It has given me such a lot of pleasure. I can actually reach out and touch the stars. Ruth, one of my carers, has taken me to so many beautiful places using the headset and we’ve seen some funny things too. It really helps with my pain and when I am feeling at my worst, during the night, she will bring it for me and it helps me to relax.”
Alison said: “When Betty was at St. Joseph’s Hospice, she felt settled and we had some happy times with her there, including on her 80th birthday in October. The hospice staff made a cake and organised balloons and we were all able to visit her, albeit two at a time to comply with Covid visiting restrictions. It was a lovely day and Betty really enjoyed it.”
Towards the end of November, Betty’s condition worsened and slowly her breathing deteriorated. During her last few days, Alison and Gary stayed with her day and night before she peacefully passed away on 3rd December.
Alison added: “We really couldn’t fault the hospice. It’s a very peaceful place and the care she received there was so personal and friendly which made Betty’s final months happy and surrounded by people.”
Betty’s funeral took place a couple of days before Christmas and she was buried along with her beloved husband Tommy.
If you would like to share your family’s experience of the care they received at the hospice, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.