Thanks to Butterwick Hospice Care for one day of the week, I don’t have to worry
Dawn Field came to Butterwick Hospice Care when her multiple sclerosis grew more difficult for her to cope with. After overcoming some first day jitters thanks to kindly volunteers and staff, she is now a fierce proponent of the vital work done by the hospice movement.
“My first thought when I heard I was referred to a hospice was: am I really that bad?” Dawn said.
“I was so nervous that on that first morning I almost rang the hospice up to tell them thank you, but I wouldn’t be coming in for my first afternoon session.
“I’m so glad I didn’t – the Butterwick is a really special place. I was picked up by John, a volunteer driver, who was so friendly and reassuring. He could tell how nervous I was, and he did so much to make me feel better.
“We arrived, and I walked in, and everybody was just so welcoming – I was met by staff, volunteers, and other patients, and it was like walking into a giant cuddle.”
Now aged 51, Dawn has been attending weekly sessions at the hospice for five years, where she receives support, physiotherapy, and alternative therapies such as massage and acupuncture.
She said: “I started to get to know the other patients and staff, and I’ve made lots of friends. It felt more like a family.
“After a little while I started coming in for the full day sessions, which meant I got my dinner there. Cooking for myself is one of the things I find really difficult, but the food at the Butterwick is amazing!
“I started getting regular physio and complementary therapies, and it made such a difference to how I was day to day – both physically and mentally – just from going once a week.
“The physio is hard because my muscles get very tight, which makes movement more difficult, but the physiotherapists help them ease off a bit.
“It’s very different to seeing a physio at a hospital – I see the hospice physios so regularly that they know me, and they know instantly how I am and if anything has changed since the last time.”
The onset of the covid-19 pandemic changed things for charities all over the world, and Butterwick Hospice Care was no different.
The charity was forced to temporarily close its doors in mid-2020 to protect patients while covid-safe measures were put in place, but Dawn was delighted when the hospice re-opened to allow one patient to attend at a time.
“The hospice had to close to keep us all safe,” she said, “but one of the nurses called regularly to check in on all of us and see how we were doing, just to have a chat and keep in touch, which was brilliant.
“There were lots of stories about charities struggling in the lockdown, and it was just so frightening to think about the Butterwick not being there to help. It just makes such a massive difference.”
Being unable to visit the hospice during that first lockdown took a toll on Dawn.
“I really deteriorated without the hospice services,” she said, “we were lucky that the hospice opened to have us back one at a time in November.
“It’s still hard without the social side of it, but it will be absolutely lovely when we can all meet together again.”
Looking back on her first day nerves, Dawn is thankful that she didn’t give in to her fears and cancel that first appointment back in 2016.
“If I hadn’t gone in that first day, I think I would be in much worse shape both physically and mentally. Now if I was offered the opportunity, I’d know to grab it with both hands!
“It doesn’t matter what’s going on in the world, or how I’m feeling that day, I know when I’m there I’m going to be looked after.
“When you walk into the Butterwick, you know that for one day you don’t have to worry about anything. It’s an amazing place.”