“I was referred to Phyllis Tuckwell about three years ago, just before Covid came along,” said Pam. “Immediately you feel that there’s a warmth and a support around you. I can’t tell you how grateful I have been to be able to come here to the Hospice and talk to the nursing staff. They sort out anything that you cannot understand that is going on in your body, and for as long as you live. They support you from that first interview with you, right to the end.”
Pam is cared for by our Living Well team and has attended both of our Living Well programmes – Living Well with Illness and the Creative programme. These programmes are designed to offer advice, support and guidance to patients and their families and carers who are living with an advanced or terminal illness. The Living Well with Illness sessions cover topics such as food and nutrition, managing sleep and remaining active, and the Creative activities include therapy through nature, mindfulness through clay and confidence through cooking.
Pam has found the Living Well with Illness sessions very beneficial. “They go into mobility problems, sleep problems, pain problems, everything. You meet other people there too, which again is very important, and you can ask questions as well. Sleep, I think, is something which is difficult for everyone when they get to my age. Some people sleep all night. I don’t. But at the sessions you begin to hear what helps one person and what helps another. It’s the whole community thing really, the bringing together of people. You hear about other people’s problems and how they manage to cope with them. I’m very lucky, I have my daughter living nearby and she keeps a good eye on me, but so many people have no-one, and you realise this when they start asking questions. You realise the loneliness and you see that these sessions are so good for just getting people together. Today there’s also a meal provided at midday, which again gets everyone together at the table. If you could see the nursing staff here, how they cope with people, the tenderness, the help, the comfort they keep you in for the day. Understanding you’re not alone, that we can get through this. They hold your hand right to the end. I can’t tell you how good that is.”
Pam has also really enjoyed the activities offered through our Creative programme. “My love was of gardening, which I cannot now do, but there you do tabletop gardening, and aromatherapy, and cooking. For two years I have planted a pot at the therapy through nature sessions, and I’m waiting for the crocus to come up again this year – it just goes on and on! Before Christmas we did succulents, and I can tell you that mine are doing very well. And in the cooking session I had no idea we were going to make Christmas puddings, but when we arrived the whole table was laden with ingredients! I’ve always made Christmas puddings, and the feeling of achievement, of being able to do that again, was marvellous. You ended up with two little Christmas puddings that you took home, and I boiled them the next day, and at Christmas I was complimented on them being the best Christmas puddings they had had in a long time! Absolutely brilliant. So many happy times have been spent here. They help you, whatever age you are, for however long you need. They do everything to make your life that much easier. I cannot find the words to say how grateful I am to all the staff.”
As well as providing support and advice through our two Living Well programmes, we also offer individual sessions with patients to see if they need help with anything specific. Our nurses and health care assistants meet with patients to discuss their symptoms and any problems they may have, phone them to check on how they are doing, and visit them at home if needed. Our physiotherapists offer individual support tailored to each patient’s needs, and our occupational therapists can help patients to participate in their daily activities, what we call ‘occupations’, focussing on what matters most to them and helping them to manage any symptoms that impact their independence and quality of life. They can assess patients’ needs at home, as well as at the Hospice or Beacon Centre, and may recommend and prescribe equipment to aid their independence or refer them on to other local service providers as appropriate.
“I am finding it quite difficult to get up in the mornings, and they have given me more and more advice on things I can do. I have had an occupational therapist visit the house. They came to see if I needed a handle outside the back door, and they have supplied me with two perching stools. They discussed everything that they thought could be of help; they really do apply what they can to everyone. Things like the perching stools make all the difference in the world. I find I can sit at my kitchen table and help with the preparation of food now. A walking frame is essential, as I find I can’t stand for any length of time. Toilet facilities as well – a frame around the toilet, which I wouldn’t have for some time, I now could not do without. Also sitting, as I have to a lot of the time, I was getting quite sore on my coccyx, and they arrived with an inflated pillow for me to sit on. It’s a marvellous addition; I couldn’t sit without it now. These things I would not even have thought about, are so helpful. I really couldn’t ask for more.”
Pam has also benefitted from the pastoral care which we offer to those who would like it. All our staff and volunteers are involved in the pastoral care of our patients, relatives and carers, but there is also a dedicated team of staff and volunteers, led by our Chaplain Jill, whose specific role it is to support our pastoral care ethos. They offer emotional, social and spiritual support, and are there for patients and their families and carers no matter what their spiritual beliefs are, supporting those of all faiths or none. Spiritual care can include faith support – such as talking about someone’s beliefs, helping them to make contact with a local faith community, creating a meaningful ritual, participating in a sacrament, or having a prayer said with them or for them.
“I can no longer go to church. I asked at the Hospice and they said they can arrange communion there for those who would like it. So I am going to take communion today. Oh, that will be good! They’ve covered everything!”
“I feel very at ease coming to the Hospice now. When you first come in you think am I going to enjoy this? But it is wonderful! You are cared for from the moment you arrive. A volunteer will bring you a drink, then someone will come and discuss what sort of a week you have had, and that is reassuring and very helpful. Sometimes you can say I’ve been fine, other times you say cramp this week, nausea this week, it comes and it goes, believe me. To be able to discuss that and to know that, whatever you say, if they can do something about it they will, is invaluable. The nurses spend time talking to you and your carer, so that everyone is in the picture. As well as meeting other people, it gives your carer a rest for the day, and you go home feeling uplifted and a lot better than when you came in. It’s not easy coping with things that perhaps you don’t understand, and it’s worth everything to know they’re here. I’ve had my nails done today, every part of you they think of! I can honestly say they are so supportive. I have been helped, really helped, all the way along. They are marvellous people, I can’t speak well enough of them.”