Planning For The Future with Birmingham St Mary’s Susan shares with us what it was like to first come to Birmingham St Mary’s and how we’ve helped her to plan for the future… How did you hear about Birmingham St Mary’s? I was referred by the QE hospital but was aware of it also from having travelled past it and knowing of it in the local area. What happened when you first came to Birmingham St Mary’s? I first met with Kate Palmer at the outreach clinic in Sparkbrook who gave me lots of practical advice and information. She listened to my concerns and worries - having only just been diagnosed as having a life limiting illness a few weeks before this meeting. She discussed financial matters and arranged for someone to come to my home to look at this with me. She listened to me talk for a long time about my feelings and anxieties and was patient, compassionate and wonderfully understanding. She discussed the Hospice in general and told me about the Day Hospice and about support available for my family. I then met with Maxine Jones a few weeks later at the actual hospice. I was initially very sad, scared and upset to 'need' the services of the Hospice and to cross the threshold but Maxine was - like Kate - patient, understanding, full of knowledge and incredibly easy to talk to. She discussed my situation and my health history, offered support for my family and kindly showed me around the Day Hospice as I was due to start there the following day. How has the Hospice helped? It feels peculiar to say but the Day Hospice has given me some truly wonderful memories. I have met so many lovely people - staff, volunteers and patients alike, and I have seen the best of human spirit. I think it takes a special individual to work in an industry like this and there are clearly some wonderful individuals who work at the Hospice. Individuals with clear compassion, kindness and genuinely lovely character. Services include educational talks, relaxation sessions and medical checks as well as advice and support. In what ways have you engaged with the Hospice’s services (Day Hospice, etc.)? I have received counselling from Kate and Maxine as mentioned above and have completed 12 weeks of Day Hospice. After completing the Day Hospice programme, I’ve now joined the follow up "Welcome Group" and am enjoying this very much. Have you got a favourite memory from your time here? Lots - lovely chats with staff and volunteers who remember everyone and take the time to have personalised conversations with all, the lovely food, getting to know other patients and finding myself more confident in social situations, speaking about my experiences at the AGM and overcoming a fear of public speaking and receiving some lovely and positive feedback, being asked to join the patient steering group, animal therapy, relaxation sessions and reflexology, enjoying the strange humour and outlook of those in the same situation as me, swapping tales and tips, seeing others having a good time too. Mainly - being reminded of how much goodness and strength there can be in people in the face of adversity and the kindness and compassion of those supporting us. What ideas did you have about hospices before coming to us? I imagined them to be a very sad place for only one purpose. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see that Birmingham St Mary's is a place of kindness, happiness and hope. Not just concentrating on end of life care but helping patients and their families/carers to have happy times, prepare for the future, and receive guidance, support, health care and advice. Also, offering counselling and support for all during the period of ill health, and afterwards offering ongoing bereavement support and help. What surprised you about the Hospice? The fact it can be a hopeful and calming place. Although I haven't yet had cause to spend time on the Ward, the Hospice is a peaceful place where hope and kindness are key. What advice would you give to someone, following your experience of Birmingham St Mary’s? I would say that if anyone finds themselves needing these services to be brave and accept that although the idea of a hospice can be very daunting, the more support and knowledge you can receive to deal with such a traumatic and difficult situation the better. Also, as Birmingham St Mary’s can help you to plan for the future and know they will offer support to your loved ones in the future this can take a lot of pressure away and hopefully help you to enjoy your time more. ------------- Thank you so much Susan for sharing your story with us and helping to explain what it’s like to have the support of the Hospice. If you’d like to help us continue to provide support to people like Susan, please click here to make a donation and give what you can to support our local charity, thank you.