Life at the Day Hospice

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I am a life-long patient of various hospitals around London and Bucks,” says Day Hospice patient Judith Parker. “I have congenital heart disease, which is a major defect of the heart at birth. I grew up at the world-famous Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, being there more than at home. From the age of 10 weeks (1960) until 2016 I have had numerous cardiac operations and procedures. This has also left me with other medical conditions.

“While I was an in-patient at John Radcliffe Hospital in June last year, my Consultant told me that no more could be done for me surgically now apart from palliative care to keep me comfortable. During our conversation about end of life care, I was asked if I would like staff to contact my local Hospice on my behalf. After the news about my health had finally sunk in, I agreed for them to contact Florence Nightingale Hospice.

In July, Sue, one of the Community Nurse Specialists at the Hospice, came to my home to meet me and my husband. She explained to us that the Hospice had a Day Hospice which I could come to
once a week, initially for 6 weeks to see if I felt that it would help me. I agreed to the invitation and I was told that a volunteer driver would pick me up and bring me home every Thursday.

I did know of the existence of the Hospice, but I had never known anyone else that went there so that was the end of my knowledge. However, I have had many friends who went to hospices in their part of the country and knew they were all happy to go. But although I was not concerned about my first day at the Day Hospice, I did wonder what would be expected of me.

On my first day, I was collected from home by a volunteer driver and taken to the Day Hospice. I was warmly greeted by the nurses, Tracey and Pam and offered a hot drink and a menu to choose my lunch for that day. I was introduced to everyone and the rest of the staff. It was explained to me what sort of thing went on through the day. Karen, the creative activities organiser, asked me what sort of hobbies I liked to do, and explained that I could do watercolour painting, drawing, knitting, jigsaws, creating a mosaic with tiles and some other interests. I said that I would like to have a go at watercolour painting, although I didn’t think I’d be very good at it. Karen was very encouraging and supplied me with watercolours and a pad. I did try, but, as suspected, it was not my first talent!

During the morning I was offered a holistic treatment that would relax me, and I chose Reiki. This was indeed very relaxing, and it also helped me lose some fluid which was wonderful as one of my symptoms is fluid retention. After lunch, which we all had together, we were encouraged to have a rest or sleep for about 45 mins, and I certainly dozed off.

“From 2pm we had a session to test our memories! Karen had a set of questions, which I think came from Trivial Pursuit. This was good fun and I surprised myself by answering more questions than I thought I would. We then came to the end of a very enjoyable day and at 3pm our volunteer drivers came to collect each patient and drive us all home, and I was already looking forward to meeting with everyone the following week. Eight months later, I was still attending most weeks and always enjoy meeting up with people I now class as friends.

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