Success stories from our Therapies Team

The Living Well Service at St Wilfrid’s Hospice provides holistic support through physiotherapy, occupational therapy and complementary therapy, as well as group support to patients and carers. Maria, Mick and Pamela are all outpatients who have accessed this service and have made remarkable progress.

Maria’s story 

Maria was a volunteer at the hospice before she fell ill in 2021. She was devastated to have to stand down from her role, but with support and guidance from the Therapies Team, she is getting closer to her goal of returning. 

‘I was diagnosed with cancer in the spine in April. I was in hospital at the time, and I bumped into a couple of the hospice Nurses, Jody and Diane. They recognised me from the hospice and got in touch with Joe, the Physiotherapist, on my behalf,’ Maria told us. 

‘Joe visited me at home for an initial assessment. He sent me some sitting exercises and organised for a firm chair that I can sit on at home. Jane, the Rehab Assistant, has been visiting me too and she’s been really pushing me. 

‘We have been practising walking up and down the steps outside of my front door. At first, we only tackled a couple, now I can do all of them. Joe and Jane were both surprised to see how quickly I progressed after just a couple of months. Now I can do other things like make my own dinner and feed my cat. 

‘Jane also arranged to have a rail fitted around the side of my house and sent me a zimmer frame to use now I’m able to go out again. The pain in my back had stopped me from being able to do the things I enjoy, so I am very grateful to the team for all their help with regaining some mobility.’ 

Mick’s story 

In 2010, Mick was diagnosed with Kennedy’s Disease – a rare inherited motor neurone disease. As his condition progressed, in 2018 the Motor Neurone Disease Association’s East Sussex branch organised a meeting for Mick with our Senior Specialty Doctor, Luci Cook. She suggested he attend a 10-week wellbeing programme at the hospice, which he did and found very beneficial. 

‘Earlier this year I spent three weeks in hospital with pneumonia. I recognised that I was feeling very weak and unbalanced, so I saw Dr Luci again. I was re-referred to the hospice and invited to the gym classes with Joe, the Physiotherapist,’ Mick told us. 

‘Joe was brilliant. He takes the time to listen to you and understand your physical condition. I told him my goal was to get back to driving so he drew up a plan and gave me a variety of exercises to do. 

‘I am very keen to be independent because I live on my own and I want to be able to continue enjoying my hobbies. I am very much into horse racing, and I would travel all around the country to watch it. I am so grateful to the Therapies Team for helping me to achieve my goals. They even helped me to arrange a driving assessment, which I passed without any problems. 

‘Now, I attend weekly wellbeing meetings. These meetings give outpatients like me an opportunity to discuss our conditions and how we’re feeling, and it’s also a time to socialise. I and others who attend like to make a financial contribution to the hospice because we each get a lot out of it and want to give back. My association with the hospice has given me confidence, social contact and some wonderful friendships.’ 

Pamela’s story 

Pamela, who has emphysema, was put in touch with the Therapies Team earlier this year. She originally took part in the breathing and relaxation classes and has since attended the eight-week gym programme. As a result, Pamela has been able to return to participating in one of her favourite hobbies – dog agility classes. 

‘Because I had to isolate during the pandemic, I noticed that I was starting to lose my mobility. When I returned to the dog agility classes I was only able to do a small amount, but I started to struggle with my breathing, so since March I have been sitting out and watching,’ Pamela explained. 

‘The gym programme at the hospice is a brilliant idea. Not only does it help with mobility, but it gives you the incentive to enjoy your hobbies again. All the exercises are done sitting down so they are all things I can cope with. 

‘I was at the agility classes with my dog a couple of weeks ago and I decided I wanted to have a go. I did it very slowly but the feeling of being able to do it again was better than winning the lottery! 

‘I can’t speak highly enough of the gym class. I have benefitted from it enormously.’  

Denise, a volunteer who runs the gym programme, said: ‘It was a pleasure having Pam in the classes. When she first started, we were focusing on arm work, but we then decided that the sit-down exercises might be more beneficial as they worked her legs more. She has benefited hugely from these classes and I have definitely seen an improvement in her mobility. I was so pleased to see a video of her getting involved in the agility class with her dog.’


Help our Living Well Service to continue supporting patients 

Between 2021 and 2022, 582 patients were supported through our Living Well Service, but we couldn’t do this without your support. We rely on your donations to offer our services free of charge to patients like Maria, Mick and Pamela. If you would like to make a donation to allow us to continue our work, please click here. Thank you. 

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