Posted by: ayrshirehealth | August 5, 2015

Who is Isabella Kimmett? by Jacqueline Thomson

Who is Isabella Kimmett?

Isabella Kimmet age 21Why is her name linked with an NHS award for Compassionate Care? Was she a doctor or a nurse, a local dignitary or maybe someone of note?

The answer to all of the above is “no” – she was so much more. She was my mum.

When Isabella hit her mid to late eighties and we had reached a stage in our lives where we had a bit of role reversal going on.

I became the person who looked after mum and she became increasingly dependent on my help and support but that was okay and thankfully some things never changed!

We still watched “Corrie” together, shared many a story and a bit of gossip here and there and we laughed our socks off at daft things.

She loved me in the way that only a mother can and I loved her right back! I learned to make tattie soup her way, and she discovered the delights of eating “they fancy Italian dishes that oor Jacqueline makes”!

Unravelling the NHS systems

Red TapeThat aside the sad reality was that although mum was “sharp as a tack” mentally, her physical health was declining and I was faced with the daunting task of unravelling the NHS’s systems for care of the elderly and cutting through masses of red tape to get mum the help and support she needed.

You guys don’t make it easy!

However after wading our way through masses of paperwork, meeting lots of people who promised to help us, mum performing lots of tasks, tears all around and me always by her side, reassuring her that things would be okay even though sometimes I wasn’t convinced myself.  Month by month mum’s home became in her words “a hospital ward”. She had carers (four times a day), district nurses, social workers, physiotherapists, doctors, a key safe, a commode, a walking frame that eventually became a wheelchair, a stairlift, an outside rail, a wetroom and finally as she called it her “alarm necklace”.

ShadowShe became depressed, in her eyes she had lost her independence, in my eyes all of the above secured her independence. She adjusted and even made lots of friends with all of the professionals who visited her daily. I often wondered if they ever saw the vibrant young woman that my mum once was.

An elegant and beautiful woman with movie star looks, a razer sharp wit and a “tongue that could clip cloots”!

I actually placed a framed photo of my mum as a young woman on the table by her chair to remind these people that she was not always an old woman (see picture above).

Our luck ran out

From time to time she was admitted to Crosshouse hospital with various age related ailments but always came home. In February 2013 our luck ran out…………

Mum was admitted to Crosshouse Hospital. She just felt very ill and had trouble breathing. Everything pointed to her age, in my opinion it was a broken heart as her oldest son had died four weeks prior. She rallied a bit and even managed a wee bit of physiotherapy. Holding hands

I willed her to get better and held her hand tight hoping I could somehow pass my energy through to her.

How silly and desperate we become that we revert to childhood with hopes of magic powers to make things better.

The sad truth was that I was told by nursing staff that my mum would have to go into a nursing home. I begged the nurse to give me one last chance to get her back to her house. I had everything in place for her, an even more robust care package and, please could she go back to Ayrshire Central for a wee bit of rehabilitation as she had flourished there in 2012………..she said yes!

I had basically signed her death warrant. In a period of eight days in Ayrshire Central mum became uncommunicative, distressed, disorientated and depressed.

I personally witnessed several serious issues of neglect.

I heard things said to mum that I hope in time I can forget. I am still haunted by what mum experienced.

“Mercifully” she took ill. Sadly she slipped into a coma and I never got the chance to tell mum I would fix it for her. She was transferred away from Ayrshire Central Hospital to the safety of Crosshouse Hospital where she was looked after and cared for by the wonderful nursing staff in 5E.   She died three days later.

Isabella Kimmett Compassionate Care Award

So why the “Isabella Kimmett Compassionate Care Award” you may be asking?

Well sometimes in life you come across someone who will not accept being fobbed off with stock standard phrases, pathetic excuses and cover ups. Isabella and Jacqueline

They will ask uncomfortable questions and expect answers.

They will demand that the faceless management come out of their offices and face the reality of what is going on in their establishments.

They will fight for the rights of their mum even though she is not with them anymore.

That someone is me.

The degradation and lack of care and respect that I felt my mum had received in “a place of safety” at the end of her life drove me and gave me the tenacity and strength to carry on for months and months to fight an industrial size organisation – the NHS.

I am happy to say as a result of this, times are changing, things are improving, complaints are being dealt with in a fair and transparent fashion, better training and systems are being implemented and baby steps are being made to improve care of the elderly.

And so “The Isabella Kimmett Compassionate Care Award” was born in memory of a dignified and proud lady and a wonderful mum.

This week’s blog was written by Jacqueline Thomson, daughter of Isabella Kimmett.

Thank you Jacqueline for sharing your story.




  1. Reblogged this on Chrys Muirhead .

    • Thanks for sharing.

  2. how moving and sad. Good for you pursuing this. Everyone deserves dignity and compassion. Lets hope things really do change for the better.

    • Things must change for the better in order to ensure dignity and respect for all. Otherwise my work will have been in vain.

  3. Lovely. Hope your fight makes changes for the better for all those other mums out there and for families who don’t have the strength to fight.

    • Doing it for the mums! (And dads!) it took all my strength but I had a wonderful support from my husband who helped me stay focussed.

  4. Jacqueline, thank you for your touching insight into the care of your mum. It helpfully reminds us of the importance of understanding the people we care for, and putting them first – always

    • If it reminds even one person that old people have the right of good care, dignity and respect then it’s a start. In my mums case she was not even receiving basic care. In a world where we have an ageing population we must get this right. Some old people don’t have a family to fight for their rights as a human being.

  5. What a beautifully written and touching blog Jacqueline, straight from the heart.

    • Thank you for your comment. Yes it was from the heart. Mum was always such a feisty and proud woman. It was so difficult for me to see the standard of care she experienced when she had reached the must vulnerable stage in her life. This award is a fitting tribute.

  6. What a heartfelt blog and so inspirational – we only want what’s best for our loved ones.

    • If it inspires people to be mindful of others then that will be a beautiful thing.

    • We certainly do and an act of kindness goes a long way. Our loved ones need to feel safe when they are in a place where they rely on others to look after them.

  7. Thank you so much for your blog. It has taken me on an emotional and educational journey.
    It is a salient reminder of how important it is to get it right for every person / patient every time!
    Looking forward to hearing who is the first award winner!

    • It really is so important. My mum was a person and it felt like she was an inconvenience. Thank you for your kind comments.

  8. As a nurse Jacqueline your story was uncomfortable reading.
    It saddens and disappoints me that your mother was not shown the care and compassion she deserves .
    Thankyou for telling your story, I truly hope it hits home with the people who “cared” for her and makes them change.
    My mother in law had a good experience in 5D, sadly she died but the staff were lovely.

  9. It was an awful experience beyond words. Mum’s decline in a week in Ayrshire Central Hospital was horrendous. I too hope they read this blog.

  10. Dear Jacqueline
    I read your blog with tears running down my face, the story you tell of how your mum’s home became like a hospital, the carers 4 times a daily, the commode, the walking frame, slow but sure loss of independence and hence the twinkle in her eye dimming, etc etc, is a mirror image of my mum’s last 18 months. Sadly she passed away on June 25th this year and will be sorely missed by all her family, irreplaceable!

    But on a happy note I am delighted to hear today that one of my charge nurses, Avril Crook, is the first winner of the Isabella Kimmet award.
    Avril has worked within the A&A for many years and is a caring, compassionate nurse.
    She took care of my mum on both her journeys through the theatre complex and provided care that was outstanding, as she does for all patients.

    Avril does not like to be in the forefront of accolades but I hope she truly feels and understands her dedication is recognised and she should be very proud.
    Avril is the proud mum of 5 children, Alan, Nicola, Andrew, Fiona and Rachel all of whom are a huge credit to her.
    Well Done Avril- well deserved.

  11. Hello and thank you for your comments. I am so sorry for your loss. Your mum is indeed irreplaceable, how true your words are. We thought our mum was invincible. Our mums are always superheroes in our eyes!! Yes we have a winner and I am very much looking forward to meeting her.

  12. I am in tears reading this.

    Started doing some charity work recently and raised funds for four care homes in Ayrshire for Playlist for life training to help with the care of dementia patients. Planning my next fund raising event in September.

    Glad you fighting for better care as well.


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