For Ursula, the most important things to her are spending time with friends, making sure her hair is ‘just so’ and feeding the flock of swans who live at the bottom of her garden. So when she was diagnosed with a life-limiting illness and referred to the services of Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, she was worried that she wouldn’t be able to keep doing the things that mattered most to her.

Here, she explains why the Hospice at Home team are “amazing”, how the nurses give her peace of mind, and how she even makes sure that her favourite flock of birds still receive their regular feed…

I was just 18-years-old when I moved to England from Germany. I feel very lucky to have lived a happy life – I had a wonderful husband, have fantastic friends and I loved owning my own hair salon in Birmingham.

As I’ve got older, I’ve had several health complications but it’s never stopped me from doing the things I loved. But when I was told that my cancer couldn’t be cured and it was suggested I used the services of Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, I was really worried. The word ‘hospice’ frightened me and I thought that I would have to leave my home and stay on a ward. Of course, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was really surprised to hear about the Hospice at Home team and I was relieved that they could care for me in the comfort of my own home.

Even though I was a bit nervous about letting a stranger come into my house and care for me at first, the nurses from the Hospice were amazing – they instantly put me at ease. They are the kindest and most gentle people you could ever meet – and I really do mean that!  

Sue and Mary, my lovely nurses, come to see me a couple of times each day. They are just incredible in making sure that I am comfortable and as pain-free as I can be. I’m not very mobile these days, so they will help bathe me, massage me and even style my hair – something that, as a former hairdresser, is really important to me. They are so respectful and I feel instantly relaxed whenever they’re here.  

The great thing about Sue and Mary is that I can talk to them about anything. If I’ve got any problems or if I’m concerned about something, I just tell them and they sort it. It’s so comforting to know that you’ve got people like that who can help you – it really does give me peace of mind knowing that I’ve got their support.  

One of my favourite things about the Hospice nurses is that they genuinely care about the things that matter to me. I’m very lucky to have a garden that backs onto a nature reservoir, where a beautiful flock of swans and their cygnets live. When I could move around a little more, I would feed the birds every day – in fact, my friends often joke that there is more bread in my house than a bakery! But now that I can’t get up-and-about like I used to, I was really disheartened I couldn’t feed the birds.

Thankfully, Sue and Mary recognised how much this meant to me so every time they visit, they will take some food out to the birds on my behalf. The very first time they came round, I joked that I wouldn’t let them care for me if they didn’t feed the birds. To my pleasant surprise, they grabbed the bread out and got straight to it! I’m so glad they get my sense of humour.  

Looking back, I can’t believe I was ever worried about receiving care from the Hospice. I am so grateful that the nurses are able to care for me at home – I am comfortable here and I can still see my friends and neighbours – so it was really important that I stayed here. From the bottom of my heart, I can honestly say that they are just amazing – they will do anything they can for you and every day, I look forward to their visits.   

Thank you Ursula for sharing your story with us. At Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, our Hospice at Home team provide compassionate care and emotional support to people who are at the very end stages of their illness. If you would like to find out more about this service, please take a read here.