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We live locally so we’ve heard about St Helena Hospice for a long time and all the wonderful work they do. It wasn’t until I had a sudden heart attack and was taken in to the hospice for a week, I realised how wonderful it is.
It came on very suddenly and they didn’t think I would survive the night at the time. I didn’t realise what was going on but for my family it was quite bad. I went to the Hospice and I had wonderful care. It was like a hotel and everybody was kind.
And the food! If you didn’t like what was on the menu they would go out of their way to cook you something else. Everything was fresh. The thing I really loved was the homemade soups and the toast! And also the porridge made with lovely full fat milk in the morning! You could go and help yourself to teas, coffees, whatever you like, and also to the ice cream.
It was especially nice for my husband that he could come and have a meal with me of an evening.
It was wonderful because I was in a room on my own and I could look out onto the garden. It was late November time so it was a miserable old month but the garden was so lovely to look out on. The thing that I couldn’t get over was there was such a lovely feeling when you went into the place. A very caring loving feeling, not the sort of feeling that you thought you’d get of death and people that were ill. It was just like a hotel with a lot of lovely people and a lovely atmosphere.
While there I was able to speak to a counsellor and talk openly about the future and my feelings. It was so lovely to be able to do that. All the various departments came to see me to see if they could be of any help too.
I do have a strong Christian belief and the chaplain came to see me every day and we had a chat which really helped. She carried on that visit to us at home right until lockdown. She would do communion with us which was wonderful to have that at home. I felt that the care they give you at the Hospice doesn’t stop when you leave.
After the heart attack I gradually got better, but Dr Beata still helps me at home to monitor the pain I have. I have a spinal condition where I have continuous pain in my spine. There’s nothing that can be done, it’s just a matter of living with it. She makes every effort to come and see me. I have no worry about visits from St Helena during this pandemic because I haven’t any other choice. It’s very good; they are always masked up and everything and I’m more than happy to see them.
I also have the SinglePoint number and it’s reassuring to know they are there and if I need them I just ring the number and there would be somebody there who would help.
When I came out of the Hospice, I went to some weekly sessions up there about heart conditions. Somebody would speak and show us exercises, and they went through all the medications and what they are for and why the cardiologist had given them. There was also a session on death; that sounds morbid but it wasn’t.
They said if anyone would like a personal chat about anything that was worrying them, then they could sort it out. So I went to see a counsellor there, Wendy, and also my husband went to see somebody as well, which was wonderful.
Now Wendy gets in touch every so often; ‘hi Jan, are you aright, do you need a little chat?’ Absolutely wonderful. A few weeks ago, I did ring her up an absolute wreck, and we’ve been having chats for the last few weeks.
Without St Helena I don’t think I would be here, and I think a lot of people can say the same.
When Jan was staying in the Hospice, it was a great source of comfort and help, not only for her but for me as well. What Jan went through with her heart attack was a very traumatic experience, and the support she had there was a marvellous help.
The room she was in was beautiful; it looked out on the garden and it was just before Christmas so we saw the guys putting the Christmas tree lights on the big tree outside. It’s a lovely environment.
We have had a lot of support from the chaplain, Vickie Peters. Bless her heart, she came to see Jan when she was in the Hospice and subsequently has paid a number of visits to us at home and taken communion with us. Up until the COVID lockdown she was coming every other month, and that has been a source of great comfort to us. We thoroughly appreciated her and the support of sharing our Christian faith together.
I had a little bit of counselling and I was invited onto a pilot scheme two years ago all about sharing experiences for people who were going through times of trauma, for carers. I was sceptical at the start whether I would get any benefit but I got a lot out of it, and I think I was able to contribute to it too.
It’s wonderful because we have actually seen Dr Beata on a regular basis since and she has been extremely supportive. It has been a comfort to know that she’s there and is able to help us or point us in a particular direction.
We both have many reasons why we are grateful to St Helena Hospice.
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