"Going to group was one of the best things that
ever happened to me, apart from meeting Marcia"
Dennis Hill has enjoyed attending our Breathe Happy programme to support his management of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), accompanied in part by his wife Marcia.
For Dennis, the group has been life changing. He explains: “They care for you all the time you’re there, they really do. They talk to you like a human being, and that’s all you want, that’s all really all you want. I was going round the bend with not being able to breathe and it got to the point where I thought I was on my last knockings, I really did. But going to group was one of the best things that ever happened to me, apart from meeting Marcia. We’ve been married almost 50 years now.
“Before, I couldn’t get from one side of the room to the other; it was getting more and more difficult to get my breath. Since I’ve been going there [Breathe Happy group], it’s been marvellous. I feel better myself; I’ve been doing a little bit of gardening which I’ve not done for a long time now. Not in this weather, too cold, but when it gets bright again I’ll be out there again.”
Marcia agrees: “He’s done some mowing, just a yard but the desire has been put there. There was no point before, why bother? What’s the point?
“I’m his sole carer, 24/7, all the time. He has a few hours there [Breathe Happy group] and I know he is in a safe, kind environment. If anything happens they’re on it. They know me, they know him and it’s brilliant. He talks to all the other people in the group; some of them haven’t talked to anyone all week.
“I tell you what it did for me; washing him and dressing him, he couldn’t get his arms up. Now he can get his t-shirt on, with a little bit of help, over his head. Within a week or two of doing the exercises he was doing it. That quick. And it gets easier as time goes on, it really does do something. The more he can do for himself, the less I have to do for him. I have noticed a difference, absolutely. Mentally as well, because he is always happy when he comes home, always.
“You need somebody who understands, to say ‘wait, slow down, try this for a minute’ and it’s worked. I’ve seen very quick changes in him. Selfishly, it has a wonderful effect on me.”
It has a ripple effect with the rest of the family; it doesn’t do one person good, it does many people good.
Dennis also sees what a difference it has made to him physically: “I went through a period where I would wake up in bed and couldn’t get my breath. I took to getting up out of bed, not telling Marcia, coming out here [to the living room], sitting here [on the sofa] and going through my exercises I got from the group. It just gives you that pause so that you calm down and you’re focusing on your breathing. It’s just a nice thing, a very simple thing. It stops it escalating into a full blown, what am I going to do next?
“I feel much better after the classes. Before Christmas I went shopping with Marcia. Yes, I had to lean on a trolley to get round but at least I got round the big supermarkets. I get out of breath and have to stop every so often to get my breath but I get round. I’m a lot better than I was; I don’t think I’ll ever be the same but I’m getting there.
“I couldn’t get from one side of the room to the other before, but now I can. It was like a blessing from heaven because the state I was in; I used to sit here day in day out, watching the telly. I bet Marcia was glad to see the back of me! It gave her a break from me.”
Marcia adds: “It has a ripple effect with the rest of the family; it doesn’t do one person good, it does many people good. That’s not bad in money terms, half a dozen for the price of one. And you’re keeping him out of hospital.
“We’ve not been written off; there’s somebody there that actually cares. It’s lovely to know there is somebody there.”
To contact the St Helena Fundraising team, please telephone 01206 931 468 or email email@example.com , Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm.
24 hour advice: SinglePoint 01206 890 360
SinglePoint is a 24/7 advice and support helpline which helps to coordinate an individual’s care with the hospice. SinglePoint also works alongside other healthcare services such as GPs, Community Nurses or Specialists.
To contact a patient at The Hospice please find the address and telephone number below. Phone calls can be made to patients at any time of the day or week. You can contact Inpatient Services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Hospice, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, C04 9JU
Telephone: 01206 845 566
You can contact The Hospice in the Home Team Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 845 566
Tendring community team
Telephone: 01255 221 222
You can contact the Joan Tomkins Centre (Colchester) Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 848 163
Fax: 01206 752 245
You can contact the St Helena Tendring Centre (Clacton) Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01255 221 222
Tendring Centre Postcode for Sat Navs: CO15 1EU
The HR Team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466
To contact the St Helena Finance Team please telephone 01206 931 450 Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
The Volunteer Services team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466
For all media enquiries between 9.00am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday, please phone the Marketing and Communications team directly on 01206 931 464
If you, or a member of your family has a life-limiting illness and would like to discuss whether St Helena care services can help, you can contact the SinglePoint telephone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 01206 890 360
To contact the St Helena Bereavement Support team please telephone the bereavement helpline: 01206 984 274, Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
The Learning and Development Centre is open Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm and can be contacted on 01206 851 560
For more information on the St Helena Service User Group please contact Chair, Ken Aldred on 01206 751 397
To contact the Lottery team please call 0800 285 1390 or visit the website here, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.
If you would like to write to or visit the Lottery team, the address is: Your Hospice Lottery Office Unit 6 The Atrium, Phoenix Square, Wyncolls Road, Colchester CO4 9AS.
Feedback, comments and complaints about St Helena care and support services may be made verbally or in writing to: Director of Care, St Helena, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, CO4 9JU. To speak to a member of our team, call 01206 845 566