“It’s is the closest thing to home there is”

What is a hospice really like? Most people know that hospice’s offer care for people at the end of their life, but how many know what we offer to help people who have been told their illness is incurable to continue to live well? Corinne is receiving help from Pilgrims through our Wellbeing and Social Programme. She explains how Pilgrims has turned things around for her and her family.

I feel embarrassed to say it now, but I thought the hospice was just a place you go to die. I’ve discovered the hospice is a place to live too. It’s been a wonderful surprise how much Pilgrims offers for people who have been told they have an incurable illness and their families.

Before I came to Pilgrims I had almost died of liver failure twice. When the community nurse asked: “Would you like me to refer you to the hospice?” I was anxious, but I said ‘yes’ because I wanted someone to talk to.

When the Pilgrims nurse came to see me and told me that I have access to so many services, it was amazing. I haven’t looked back.

As soon as you step through the door there’s always a welcome and the offer of a cup of tea.

I’m in less pain, more mobile, and I have loads more confidence.

Help to manage my symptoms

I’m on my fifth session of a six week Energise Exercise programme, held in the Pilgrims Therapy Centre gym. It has been phenomenal.

The first week I found the energise session really hard work. I could only do two minutes or so on each machine, but I got through it.

Now after several weeks I can do so much more. It’s been the biggest influence in improving my life so far. The swelling in my legs has gone down. I’m in less pain, more mobile, and I have loads more self esteem and confidence. I am learning so much about my body.

I have been to the Pilgrims physio for help with my balance because I wasn’t walking properly before. Now I am walking normally.

Another of the big problems I had was fatigue. I had a referral to come to the Pilgrims Fatigue Management Programme. It was brilliant too. We talked in the group about what fatigue means. Together we learned that it’s ok to feel tired but how to recognise the signs of getting overtired so we can avoid that happening.

I’ve been to the breathlessness classes too, because I was struggling going up and down stairs and feeling out of breath. The Pilgrims therapist gave me some tips on what to do and how to manage it.

It’s been good to meet other people in a similar position and hear what they’re doing to cope.

Social support for me and my family

It’s been good to meet other people in a similar position because I can hear what they are doing to cope too. We hear from the therapists at the hospice and we also talk through topics with each other.

I am overwhelmed by the support I have had. The Pilgrims nurse phones me regularly to check how I am. It’s been fantastic for my husband and three adult children too – for the whole family. My friend came one day too.

We all feel like we’ve got someone to talk to and all my kids and husband say I’ve changed so much. I am more myself – and in some ways I feel better than I have for over a year. It’s made such a difference.

I feel like it doesn’t matter who you are you will be welcomed at the hospice.

Every class I come to starts with a chat about how you’ve been before we do any exercises, the people here really make time for you. There are beautiful gardens you can walk in if you like or just sit and enjoy the view – it’s comfortable and I’d say it’s the closest thing to home there is.