Barbara's Story

“I couldn’t have managed without Phyllis Tuckwell,” says Barbara, one of our Living Well patients. “They’ve been brilliant.”

Barbara’s first experience of Phyllis Tuckwell was when her husband, Wilf, was admitted to our In-Patient Unit for respite care following heart failure. “The NHS nurse wanted him to go to hospital, but he refused,” says Barbara, “so she suggested Phyllis Tuckwell instead. She said to him ‘before you say anything, you don’t only go there to die!’ They put him on a drip and within fortnight he was feeling a lot better, and the swelling he’d had in his legs had gone down. They did him proud.”

Barbara has now been diagnosed with cancer, and has had radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment. “That’s all stopped now though,” she says. “They can’t cure it. I just take each day as it comes. My sons live nearby and have been wonderfully supportive, and my daughter-in-law Donna has been amazing. She was with me when I was first diagnosed, and she’s taken me to all my appointments ever since. She gets my shopping for me too. She’s been a real brick.”

Before the Covid pandemic, Barbara had been attending our Day Hospice sessions. Part of our Living Well service, Day Hospice is held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and patients are invited to attend one session a week for a series of eight or twelve weeks. They run from 10am to 3pm, and include a variety of different activities which patients can attend, which are designed to promote physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Support is tailored to each individual’s needs, and may include helping patients to remain as mobile as possible, feel more in control, make choices about their current and future care, and develop coping strategies to help manage their illness. Patients can also access nursing care there, and speak to Counsellors, Social Workers or Benefits & Entitlements Officers. At lunchtime, they are served a three-course meal together in our Dove Lounge, which looks out onto the Hospice gardens.

“With our previous experience, I knew about Phyllis Tuckwell, so I didn’t hesitate to accept their help again,” says Barbara. “I’ve had two or three sets of sessions at Day Hospice now and I’ve absolutely loved it. They were a real lifeline for me. Everybody there is so kind. They make you feel so welcome.”

“The Complementary Therapists offered hand massages, or leg and feet massages, if you wanted, so I had that and thoroughly enjoyed it. There was one lady there who did Spiritual Healing. She would put her hands over you – that was very nice and relaxing. I also met an old friend there who I used to know when my sons were at school – they used to go to school with her sons – so that was lovely. We reminisced and renewed our friendship.”

Barbara has also had visits from one of our Home Support (HS) volunteers. HS volunteers visit patients for three hours a week, providing practical and emotional support and companionship at a difficult time. Being seriously ill can cause anxiety and stress, and can be lonely too. Taking patients out shopping or to medical appointments, going on outings with them, or simply sitting and listening to them talk over a cup of tea or coffee, can make a huge difference.

“Before the pandemic, Mayonne used to come over up and take me out for a few hours a week,” says Barbara. “She took me to so many wonderful places I didn’t even know existed. We used to go to Frensham Little Pond. We’d go there in the summer, and it was beautiful. We’d have a walk along the beach bit, and then have coffee and cake in the café. Naughty cake we called it. We went to Maltings, to Waverley Abbey, and to a lovely little farm called Newlands Farm. They had a café there and we’d have a coffee and some cake, then we’d browse around the little shop they had, which sold fresh meat, fish, vegetables and bread. We’d do a bit of shopping, and then she would bring me back home. We went there three times. And there was a place called Rose Café too, they had a wood burner and it was lovely to sit there and have a warm drink and a chat. It was something to look forward to every week. She visited me for a year, at least. The last time she came was in October. We had to sit outside in the garden though. She wasn’t allowed in the house because of Covid.”

As well as affecting Home Support visits, the Covid restrictions have also forced us to suspend our Day Hospice sessions – but we’ve kept in touch with all of our Living Well patients through phone and video calls, doorstep deliveries and home visits.

“Steph, one of the Health Care Assistants, rings me up to see how I’m getting on,” says Barbara. “She‘s been calling me once a fortnight. I look forward to those calls, they’re reassuring. She asks me how I am and if I have any symptoms. The Chiropodist, Claire, has also been to visit me. She came to my home and did my feet, which was wonderful. 2020 was a difficult year for me, with four deaths in my family – I don’t know what I would have done without Phyllis Tuckwell to help me through it all.”

Everyday we need to raise over £25,000 to provide our services free of charge to our patients and their families. Please make a donation today to support the important work of Phyllis Tuckwell.