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Chatting, laughing and friendship: how the hospice surprised me

18 July 2018

With Barbara’s heart condition, getting out and socialising with friends is quite difficult. That’s where Birmingham St Mary’s helps – by offering Barbara a listening ear and an opportunity to meet new friends who provide peer support. 

Read Barbara’s story below to discover how the ‘Day Hospice’ and ‘Support at Home’ services have surprised her, and why meeting new people and “having a giggle” has given back her zest for life…

I’ve always been someone with lots of energy. I was a bit of fitness fanatic and always enjoyed getting out-and-about, chatting to people and socialising. So when I was diagnosed with a heart condition – and was told that I needed to slow down and take things easy – I really struggled. I’ve never been one to just sit about and there were times when I felt quite lonely.

It was my daughters who initially suggested I use the services of Birmingham St Mary’s. They saw it as a great opportunity to get extra support and meet new people. At first, I thought I wasn’t going to like it as I didn’t know what to expect but now, I would recommend it to anyone.

I first used the Day Hospice’s 12-week ‘Therapeutic Programme’. It was really useful to hear the nurses and occupational therapists give educational talks, such as how to deal with anxiety, controlling symptoms, and how to talk to family and friends about difficult topics. But what I loved most was being able to chat to other people who were attending the sessions. We became like a little family unit – always nattering away and having a good old giggle. It felt good to be able to chat to people and share experiences and I ended up making some brilliant friends there.

As my 12-week programme came to an end, the hospice asked if I’d like to try their ‘Support at Home’ service. As it was becoming more difficult for me to get out of the house, I thought it would be really handy for someone to come round and visit me. So once a week, Helen, my Support at Home volunteer, pops round for a few hours to have a chat and see how I’m getting on.

From the moment I met Helen, we just clicked. We have so much in common and we don’t stop laughing from the minute she gets here to the minute she leaves. It feels like we’ve been friends for years! Helen and I will chat about all sorts and it’s good to know that I’ve got a direct link with the hospice should I have any questions or concerns. Whilst I’m sad to see Helen leave after a visit, I always notice how much more upbeat and positive I feel. My daughters have noticed it too and I enjoy telling them about all the things we’ve been giggling about.

With Support at Home, I’ve also been able to enjoy their monthly coffee afternoons. The afternoons bring everyone who’s using the service together, as well as their family members, loved ones, carers and volunteers. Having a life-limiting illness can be quite isolating at times, so it’s nice to be able to meet everyone and just talk. We’ve also created some beautiful items at the coffee afternoons, like hanging baskets and painted glass.

Before Birmingham St Mary’s came along, I was starting to feel quite low in myself. But with their support, I’ve really found my zest for life again. I feel much more motivated now and it’s fantastic to have met people who I can talk to and have a good old laugh with.

Thank you Barbara for sharing your story with us! Our Day Hospice provides emotional, social and spiritual support, helping you to focus on living well. If you would like to find out more, please take a read here.

Support at Home is a volunteer-led service which offers friendly companionship, support with correspondence and assistance in finding you services that could provide additional aid. It also offers loved ones and carers support, by allowing them to take a break for a few hours each week. Read here to find out more.