“For 35 years I worked and then all of a sudden I didn’t. You’re left asking ‘what do I do?’, ‘what happens next?’ and ‘what help is there?’ This is when St Elizabeth Hospice’s Community Care Unit became so vital,” explained 57-year-old, Paul Pittman, who has been using the hospice’s Community Care Unit services (previously known as Day Care services) since 2020.
“When you are diagnosed with an incurable illness there is so much confusion and uncertainty but the hospice team are able to give you guidance and reassurance, while helping you live well and ensure your illness does not have to define you.”
Paul, who worked as a chartered accountant, was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer that had spread to his liver in May 2020. The diagnosis came after a short period of ill health where he had experienced low iron levels and bad back pain.
“I was still working at that point, but my wife Sonia, who is a nurse, encouraged me to speak with my Doctor and a scan and colonoscopy were booked,” said Paul.
“Unfortunately these were cancelled in March due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, eventually, I had a CT scan on 5th May with my results coming back on 7th May which showed I have stage 4 inoperable cancer.
“Shortly after this, I began treatment and a nurse recommended the hospice for further support, as it is not just a service for end-of-life but one which also helps people feel more comfortable through specialist support at all stages of life.
“Through my career, I had been familiar with St Elizabeth Hospice and similar services due to fundraising activities but I was not aware of the full extent of their services, including the Community Care Unit, which provide support to patients and their families at different points of life’s journey.”
Every year St Elizabeth Hospice delivers free care to over 3,000 patients and their families throughout East Suffolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney.
Centered on an individual’s needs, the hospice provides specialist support, whenever and wherever it is needed, whether at home, in the community or at the hospice.
The Community Care Unit, which launched in 2021 to replace the former Day Care services, operates from the hospice site in Ipswich, Beccles Hospital, Martham Medical Centre and Sole Bay Health Centre in Great Yarmouth and Waveney.
It offers the opportunity for patients’ wellbeing and social needs to be met, while also enabling the convenience of all necessary healthcare appointments to be organised and completed in one location on the same day.
Paul added: “As well as the Occupational Therapy team providing me with equipment to help me feel more comfortable at home, I have used the counselling services which have proved very helpful and I have also taken part in the circuit sessions at the hospice gym.
“These services have given me both physical and mental support which have made a great difference to my day-to-day life – especially through meeting other people who are living through similar experiences to me.
“The hospice has also provided counselling support to my two sons – Charlie and Max – who have found my diagnosis hard, but they have been strong. Max has since fundraised over £4,000 for the hospice, through completing a sponsored endurance challenge, to show his gratitude for the care they have given our family.
“It is so valuable and comforting to know the hospice team is there for you and your family 24/7, ready with their expertise when you need help. All the staff are so nice, warm and welcoming. I see this kindness every time I visit the hospice.
“There are so many different services St Elizabeth Hospice provides for all points of life’s journey, I would encourage anyone who thinks they could benefit from their care to get in touch. Their care is personal and tailored to you and provides comfort during an uncertain time.”
More details about the Community Care Unit can be found at www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/how-we-can-help/hospice-care/community-care-unit.