January 16, 2018

From end of life care to returning home | Irene’s incredible journey to recovery | A story of hope, strength and determination


It’s not often we open our mailbox to read a story like this…

“Dear Four Seasons Health Care,

Here is a photo of our resident Irene at St. Catherine’s Care Home, Horwich, who came to us in May on end of life care, nursed in bed with a grade 4 pressure sore. She has defied all odds and we have all the photographs of her amazing journey which she would love to share with you.

Today she goes home with mixed emotions. It’s an amazing story, and sadly we don’t often get this ending in a nursing home. If you’re interested in finding out more please contact Home Manager Gillian Johnson.

Kind regards,

The team on the General Nursing Unit x”

As you can imagine we were keen to find out more, we contacted Home Manager Gillian for extra information. Here is Irene’s story…

Irene’s story

Irene moved into St Catherine’s on the 5th of May 2017 for end of life care, after the home was recommended by a family friend whose mother was a resident.

Irene came to St. Catherine’s straight from hospital; she was extremely poorly with a huge grade 4 pressure ulcer. This meant Irene was bedbound with extremely poor mobility. Already in a life-threatening condition and receiving end of life care, Irene was at further risk; due to the extensive damage to the skin there was the danger that Irene could develop fatal infections, such as blood poisoning (sepsis) and tissue death (gangrene).

The dedicated care team at St Catherine’s care home implemented a care plan for Irene, and over time her health began to improve as her pressure ulcer showed signs of healing. As her health developed our colleagues contacted a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist to support Irene.

Irene really worked hard on getting her health and independence back, building up her mobility one step at a time by using her walking frame to visit other residents and socialising with relatives. Over time Irene started to gain weight and feel valued as a person again.

However, we all know feeling well goes beyond the physical aspects of care. To help support Irene’s confidence and promote her dignity our colleagues contacted a dentist who came to see Irene and issued her with dentures. Eventually Irene even felt well enough to visit the onsite hairdresser and even requested highlights!

After continued encouragement from our colleagues, Irene’s self-confidence increased and she joined other residents, relatives and colleagues in the weekly knit and natter group. Knitting was one of her favourite past times, and she helped the home to knit many items for the Christmas fayre; something she had not been able to do for a long time.

These were huge steps that could not have been imagined when Irene first came to St. Catherine’s in May.                                                                     

Irene became well enough and gained the confidence to go for trips and meals with her family. A special moment for Irene was when she was able to spend Christmas and New Year with her family, something she didn’t expect to be able to do again.

As the final step in Irene’s journey an occupational therapist was contacted to make the necessary adjustments at Irene’s family home. A Multidisciplinary Team Meeting (MDT) was held with professionals dedicated to Irene’s recovery, and it was decided that Irene could be safely discharged home to her husband and family.


Irene’s family set up a Facebook account so that Irene could keep in touch with our colleagues and her friends at St. Catherine’s. Here is Irene’s Facebook post from her final night before returning home:

“Well this is my last night in St. Catherine’s nursing home after being admitted last May on end of life. I am now well enough to go home and I would like to thank all the dedicated staff and everyone who have made this possible and (has) given (me) my life back. All my love to my family and friends I will always remember what you have all done for me xxx”

Gillian Home Manager had a little message to Irene from all at St Catherine’s: “We wish you all the very best for the future and much happiness. You made many friends here and we would love you to keep in touch.”

Here are just some of our colleagues’ messages to Irene:

Jenny Johnson (Care Home Assistant Practitioner):” 💕💕💕 what an amazing journey, you’ve come so far and we are all so proud to be a part of it!! Our superwoman! Xxxx”

Beki Emerson (Care Assistant): “Thank you for teaching us what being strong can really do. My gosh it will be quiet without you but I couldn’t wish for anything better for you and you amazing family xxx”

Irene’s sons also shared their love and support for their amazing mother and the journey she has been on:

Jason Waring: “You have done us all so proud mum you have shown unbelievable strength which doesn’t surprise me as that is what you have shown me all my life. It will be so nice to have you home for good although we will all miss the girls at St. Catherine’s they have been so caring and done an incredible job if anyone is looking for a care home I highly recommend St. Catherine’s Horwich. See you soon mum xxx””

Neil Waring: “All those little steps at a time, such a strong woman. You have made us all proud, love you Mum xxx”

Gary Cottam: "Mum you are such a strong and determined woman and have fought so hard to get your health back and get on your feet again. As others have said we are so proud of you and can't wait to have you home. Love you loads and loads xxxx"

This highlights how our care teams can truly make a difference to people's lives. Jacqui Hodgson, Regional Manager comments to Gillian and her team: “This is a fantastic story and just goes to show the dedication and compassion given by you and your staff. It is a testament to your leadership skills and the quality of care you expect your residents to receive.

"Really well done – I am so proud of all of you.”

Thank you to Irene and her family for letting us share your story and for being an inspiration to us all.


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