Shirley Roberts’ Story

My father had heart failure later in life, with accompanying vascular dementia and one of the highlights of his week was attending the day care centre at St Leonard’s Hospice on a Friday. It was one of mum’s highlights too as she had a break from caring and we both enjoyed dad’s renewed vitality when he came home and we asked him all about his day!

I had never had contact with the Hospice before but I was so overwhelmed with care shown to my Dad in the day centre and also when he died in the Hospice after a few weeks of respite care there.

Four years later when I retired I decided that I would like to volunteer at the Hospice as a thank you and also help myself think and prepare for end of life issues – something I was quite frightened about! I help on the ward and hope to help in the day care centre one day when more helpers are needed. It is a privilege to work alongside the dedicated team of volunteers, ward staff and nurses. There is a very real sense of care and community. I do find it an enlightening place to be.

Amongst the everyday work of serving drinks and meals, some patients and their relatives are gathered waiting for that second day of our lives were not here for a full day. The first day we celebrate every year! However the second we hardly dare think or talk about. The Hospice deals with these times with professionalism, compassion and wisdom. It is humbling to see a little of this and I feel I can help with the mundane tasks like loading and unloading the dishwasher so that staff have more time to help patients and relatives at this special time.