The first time I stepped into Overgate as a Day Hospice patient I felt extremely apprehensive; however I needn’t have been. My healthcare experiences prior to this had been in hospitals having invasive procedures including four failed transplants, bowel adhesions, a massive haemorrhage, heart surgery and more besides. But the holistic environment created by warm, caring staff and volunteers at the Hospice blew me away. To be amongst other people who were going through their own journey gave me huge comfort. The main topic of conversation is NOT illness but life!
As lockdown hit, I felt extremely anxious and cut off - we all did. However, as a clinically extremely vulnerable person we were told by the government not to go out of our homes at all! Those early days were so tough, all plans up in the air but Overgate quickly realised that we needed some support. They organised Zoom meetings and this became a way of seeing familiar faces. The nursing staff were brilliant at picking up who might need an extra phone call after the sessions by the tremendous counsellor Jet or the wonderful chaplain Andy. Zoom gave us space to connect, participate in quizzes, do crafts, have guided physio and much-loved meditation. Laughter and compassion spreads through a screen, it really does!
After my fourth lot of cardiac surgery I was offered respite which gave me time to sleep, to recuperate and just adjust my frazzled mind and body. I was feeling utterly depleted mentality and physically. Time spent in the respite room at Overgate was enriched by the staff. Little cakes were left as a treat after I returned from dialysis. One of the nurses, Wayne, placed a bathmat down and fluffy towels down before I showered, and this seemed to be too much kindness that it left me in tears of gratitude. My hand held by a young trainee nurse was just the medicine I needed, and the massages offered made me feel human, not just a body to put needles in or operate on.
All of the above has been a lifeline to me and my husband. Thank you to all those who make this nurturing retreat possible.