When people hear the word ‘hospice’ many think of a building that people go to die – but hospice care is so much more than that, as St Elizabeth Hospice patient, Linda Moore explains:
“If you mention the world hospice to lots of people they think it’s the place you go to die but that’s not the case. The hospice is there to support you in very difficult times. It’s not all about dying at all, it’s about living.
“It’s a calm atmosphere and very peaceful. It’s also, unexpectedly, quite a happy place. There’s a lot of laughter and of course there are tears as well, but the laughter is a bonus because it makes things seem a lot better.
Linda, 67, of Ipswich, was first referred to St Elizabeth Hospice five years ago after being diagnosed with COPD, angina and polymyalgia.
Since coming to the hospice for the first time all those years ago, Linda has accessed many of its services, from day care and complementary therapy, to benefiting from symptom control and pain management on the inpatient unit and being cared for at home.
Not long after being referred to the hospice, Linda spent seven weeks on the inpatient unit where her leg was treated for infected cellulitis and she was nursed through pneumonia. After her long stay on the ward, the clinical staff recommended that Linda attend day care and she jumped at the chance.
When patients first attend day care, they are given a holistic assessment and their needs, concerns and questions are addressed. A plan of care is then agreed based on the patient’s needs and not their diagnosis.
“It was the staff treating me on the inpatient unit who recognised the need for me to be treated holistically; they knew that I would benefit from many of the services on offer through day care. They were right.
“Day care was a lifeline for me. It was good to meet other people and have a chance to get out of my flat. It was those regular visits which kept me going at that time.”
Linda became a regular patient on Tuesdays and started to take full advantage of the services on offer, trying reiki, hand massages, physiotherapy, music and art therapies, as well as making contact with the spiritual guidance team and having her hair done regularly by the volunteer hairdresser.
Linda is certain that these treatments had a huge, positive impact on her emotional and physical health:
“The complementary therapies, especially reiki, made me feel so much better internally which, in turn, made a physical difference too. I might have been a bit skeptical about them before but they have made a big difference in my life.
“I also now use the hospice’s therapy gym twice a week – and I’ve never gone to the gym like that in my life before! It started with using the medibike which is ideal for people in wheelchairs – mainly to keep what strength I have got in my legs, but I’ve progressed from that to the treadmill and doing leg weights. I’m even now starting to climb the stairs and I haven’t done that in about five years, so I’ve really found the benefits of coming to gym.
“I don’t know where that strength has come from in me but it’s down to all that the staff have done for me here. Their whole teamwork has been marvelous and I can’t thank the hospice enough.”
Linda hasn’t just found strength physically, but emotionally too.
“Reiki had a surprising effect on me that I didn’t think was possible. It was very calming and relaxing and I think it’s a fantastic therapy to partake in. I’ve even gone now to get my reiki 1 which I can use myself at home as a form of meditation. I don’t know how reiki works but it really does make me feel like a different person to what I was.”
Five years on from her initial diagnosis and Linda now volunteers on reception to ‘give something back’ to the place and people that have done so much for her.
“Nothing is too much trouble for anybody at the hospice, no matter what their role is. For example, the senior physiotherapist made all the difference to how I live my life by helping me to get my new, easy access ground floor flat in Ipswich.
“I’ve taken every opportunity that’s been offered to me at the hospice and I have found it all to have been of great benefit to me. I can’t say enough about being here – it’s done wonders for me.”