A laugh and a joke is the best medicine for Irene
A joke and a laugh is some of the best medicine for St Catherine’s patient Irene Eccles – and she enjoys both during her weekly visits to day therapy at the hospice.
Irene, who has pancreatic cancer, loves chatting with others, enjoying a meal and getting her hair done, which is all part of the service at the Lostock Hall charity.
Harold was cared for on the in-patient unit, and Irene too has now been admitted to stay at St Catherine’s for help managing her pain and other symptoms.
Irene, who wanted to share her experiences of the care she receives as part of the 30th anniversary Give A Gift campaign with the Lancashire Evening Post, said: “It was a shock when I was given the news about the diagnosis, and then when the word ‘hospice’ was mentioned I switched off. I didn’t want to come. I thought it meant that was it, I thought it meant death.
“I agreed to try day therapy but I was anxious about coming – I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t know what to expect. But now I love it! We have a laugh and a joke, play some games, they even got a cake for my birthday. The doctors and nurses are there to talk to about anything which is troubling you, and there’s other things like arts and crafts and complementary therapies to try if you want to. Now I try and tell other people what it’s really like, so that they don’t have to be worried if they ever need the help of St Catherine’s.”
Irene, aged 89, also praised the care she is now receiving on the in-patient unit, and her niece Sylvia Ghorbani – Harold’s daughter, who is visiting from her home in Virginia, United States – agreed.
Irene, who lives in Clayton-le-Woods, said: “At St Catherine’s they have time for you. When you need them they are there on the spot. It’s a very special place.”
Sylvia, who grew up in New Longton before emigrating to the US at the age of 19, has been back home in Central Lancashire for the past four and half months, looking after Irene. During that time she has had regular contact with St Catherine’s, including with long-serving nursing staff who had also looked after her father when he had prostate cancer.
“Dad was very poorly, but still I remember happy times at the hospice,” she said. “There’s no rigidity here – it’s very relaxing and there is the time and space to spend time together, knowing that they have the right treatment to make them comfortable.
“On the day Dad died it was actually the Easter holidays and he had been home for the day. When we arrived back to St Catherine’s that night, he told me how relieved he was to be back there, to be comfortable, and to feel safe.”
Fast forward 16 years and as St Catherine’s celebrates its milestone 30th year, Sylvia said the hospice’s commitment to high standards and quality, specialised care remains unchanged.
Sylvia, a retired head teacher, added: “St Catherine’s is a home away from home, with the expertise and experience to help people in the best possible way. The respect and understanding they show to each and every person is amazing.”
Both Sylvia and Irene are getting behind the Give A Gift campaign – a list of 30 different things St Catherine’s is trying to achieve in 2015 – and encouraging local people to think about how they might be able to help.
Amongst the items left on the list are items of medical equipment for the in-patient unit – including lock boxes which protect syringe drivers, a nebuliser and a special pump to regulate fluids and bloods – as well as an in-patient unit refurbishment project, which the hospice hopes local businesses might be inspired to help with by providing services ‘in kind’. The windows in the conservatory need replacing, and corridors along the unit could do with re-painting and re-carpeting.
Sylvia added: “St Catherine’s is a true jewel – I have never experienced a place like it. They really deserve our support during this special 30th year.”
To view the full Give A Gift list click here. To get involved email email@example.com or call 01772 695290.
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