Ray stayed on our Inpatient Unit before moving on to our 12-week therapeutic programme at the Day Hospice and here is his story...

I’ve got so many things killing me that it just passes over my head. All the things that are wrong with me, there are about 7 or 8, I’ve now got used to.

The last time I went to the lung function clinic, the specialist said, “We’d like you to attend Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice because with your COPD and the drowning feeling you get, they can treat you better than I can.”

So one of the Hospice nurses came out to see me, quite nice she was, and chatted to me. About a fortnight later, she said to me: “Raymond, we’d like you to come in to St Mary’s for about a fortnight,” and I thought, honest to God, I don’t want to.  I cried to be honest, it upset me but after a while I thought I’d better go in because the specialist said “they can treat you better than we can, Raymond.”

I came in on the [Inpatient Unit] ward and you never believe it but I gained two and a half kilos in five days. Like a lot of people, I believed that when you went into a hospice, you weren’t coming out but that’s so far from the truth.  Nothing is too much trouble here. If you can’t sleep at night, you hit the buzzer and a nurse will be there straightaway to offer tea, sandwiches or whatever you want. As for the breakfast - they’d kill a lorry driver! You can have what you want, it’s better than a 5 star hotel.

I got so used to being at the Hospice. I was lucky really, I was in a ward with six beds and for seven days, I was on my own. I was in a bay with a window at the end and I loved it. I used to sit there and sing my head off!  When people came to see me, it was nice to have them around but sometimes, I just wanted to get rid of them - that’s how good it was. I was just so relaxed.

They wanted me in for a fortnight but I got on that well with them that I didn’t want to come home. They said after 10 days: “Ray, we think you’re well enough, do you fancy going home?”  After my discharge they put me on the Day Hospice [12-week therapeutic programme].  Here, I can really rely on people.  I mean I fall asleep half of the time but it’s no disrespect to the nurses because in here, a lot of it clicks. If you ask me, were they right to transfer my care from the hospital to St Mary’s?  Yes, one hundred per cent. They’ve taught me to breathe; I’ve learnt to control my breathing, which gets rid of a bit of the panicking. I’ve also learnt to walk again, to a certain degree.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes of a Thursday when I haven’t slept well and I’m being hounded by my wife and daughter to get ready for the Day Hospice, I might feel like not making the effort to go. But, I do go, because I don’t like to miss a week, so I always try to come.

I’ve got so much out of the Day Hospice and I think everybody that comes here feels the same. I’ve met some great people, especially the old dears, and at the end of the 12-week programme I won’t forget them.

People should know what the Hospice team are doing and they should be recognised for it. So if we can put a couple of bob your way, we’ll do it. Anytime my family can help out, they’ll do it. I’ve already given a couple of hundred pounds to the Ward. I see it like we’ve sort of gained another family.  The care doesn’t stop with me either.  They talk to my missus and they talk to the girls.  They help everybody and so you should help them out.

My daughters are signed up to do the marathon next year, and my family will support it. The lady that drives me, she did a swimming challenge for the Hospice recently and I helped raise £70 from some of my  family members.

That’s how it is and that’s how I feel, and you see I will act on that. You reward people for what they do.  Hospice staff and volunteers haven’t asked for a reward but in here, they’ll give you anything.

What’s your favourite memory Ray?

I was happy on the ward.  There was a cleaner who was marvellous, she was the life and soul! I had a good time both times I was admitted and I’ve also enjoyed the Day Hospice, so I’ll sing its praises as I do think it’s great. Nothing’s ever too much trouble for the staff and volunteers and nothing will ever be too much trouble for my family; they’ll be in touch with this place long after I’ve gone.

What would you say to people who don’t know about the Hospice?

Unless you’ve been in here, people from the outside wouldn’t realise how relaxed and calm it is. It would be good for people to come round and see.  When they first wanted to admit me, I thought, it’s doomsday, but now if people said we’d like you to come in for a week, I’d happily do so.

I’m lucky to have family support, but you might know, for some poor person living on their own, Day Hospice is a  joy.  You can come here for a few hours, have your dinner, do a bit of socialising, have doctors and nurses look after you, and get any aid you want.

If you’re going in there, you’re in for the surprise of your life, you won’t want to come home. If you feel you want to learn more about the Hospice, just knock the door and they’ll make you welcome.

Thank you Ray for taking the time to share your story with us and help show what it is like here at Birmingham St Mary's Hospice.

If you have any questions after reading Ray's story and would like to find out more, please get in touch with us here at the Hospice.