Day Service makes such a difference

Susan Kirkbride can’t speak highly enough of the care and attention that she receives from the Butterwick Hospice Care Day Service that she accesses, because it makes such a difference to her life.

Susan has had Parkinson’s disease for 18 years, with first symptoms appearing at the age of 52, when she was headteacher at a primary school in Hertfordshire.

Although it was a very demanding, large school, whose students had considerable needs, Susan loved it, and carried on working for as long as she could.

“After a couple of years, the stress and strain became too much for me to continue, so I took early retirement,” explains Susan. “I still miss the children and the staff, but I couldn’t do the job properly, and it wasn’t fair on the school.”

Susan and her husband, Ian, were originally from the North East, so decided to move back home to be near family and friends.
Her condition is not predictable, so she has bad days, when she can’t move at all, and not so bad days, when she can shuffle around the house and do small tasks.

Initially, she was receiving some physiotherapy through the NHS, and given a few exercises to do at home. Then a friend who worked at the Richardson Community Hospital in Barnard Castle asked her if she knew that the Butterwick Hospice provided an outreach service there. Susan made enquiries through her GP practice, and was referred by her doctor.

“The Butterwick got in contact with me and offered me six week blocks of half-day treatments at the Richmond,” says Susan. “I started having aromatherapy massage, physiotherapy, as well as the chance to speak to a specialist nurse.

“They provide information and specialist advice for anything you might want to talk about, whether it’s a continence nurse or applying for grants to make sure that you’re claiming for everything you need – they find someone for you to talk to. They’re brilliant.”

Susan continued to use the service at the Richardson hospital until Covid-19 meant that they needed the rooms for their own use, so she now travels to the hospice in Bishop Auckland.

“I used to sit and chat with other people waiting for their treatment, but Covid has put the kybosh on that,” she says. “I would see people with a variety of neurological conditions, such as MS, or Motor Neuron Disease, as well as Parkinson’s, and it was advantageous to be able to talk to people in the same position as you.

“Going to Bishop means a 20-minute car journey, rather than a short walk up the road, but it’s worth it,” she says. “I have a specific time to attend, and it’s all very well controlled. I feel very safe going there. It is an absolutely wonderful service, and the hospice is doing its utmost to keep it going, despite Covid.

“The aromatherapy massage makes such a difference to me – it relaxes me and stops my muscles getting in knots. It takes away the pain and the stress. But it’s not just the physical services I benefit from – it’s the people that are there, and the way they care about me; the way they take time to talk and to listen. They’re just wonderful.”

“Everyone is so kind and thoughtful, and they’re very much focused on what you need. I get friendship and care from them – they’re like members of my family now, and I take along photos of my lovely great-granddaughter to show them.

“As long as they are being funded, I hope to keep accessing their services, because it makes such a difference to me.”

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