Ever since I started at the MSA Trust over a year ago I have been hearing about the vital role hospices play in the lives of people affected by MSA.
I confess that I had always thought hospices were mainly involved in end of life care so wanted to find out more.
Woking & Sam Beare Hospices invited me along to their day care unit at Woking Hospice. I was a bit apprehensive as it was the first time I’d visited a hospice. I wasn’t sure what to expect and worried it would be a sombre and sad place.
Preconception rethink number one.
As soon as I arrived, the hospice felt like such a warm and welcoming place. Everyone was really upbeat and genuinely positive. Family and friends come into the day unit after visiting people and you could tell they were able to chat with the staff and felt comfortable doing so.
Rethink number two.
Hospices do so much more than offer end of life care. There were numerous other services that I wasn’t aware of and I don’t think many people would know about either. Here are a few examples:
- Drop in sessions – where people pop in for an hour or so to have a cup of tea and chat – this is used mostly by younger people who find it more comfortable to be able to come and go rather than stick to prearranged times.
- The day unit – this is for people who want to come for the whole or part of the day along with their family and friends if they prefer. Some come in on prearranged transport while others make their own way. People can do as much or as little as they like, with a wide range of activities available like arts and crafts, music therapy, sessions with a physiotherapist or they can talk to doctors or chat with others attending.
- Inpatients – this is when people come for a week’s respite or end of life care should they decide they’d rather be here than at home. Every patient has their own room with an en-suite and family members are welcome to visit around the clock if they wish to.
The hospice also offers regular exercise classes, complementary therapies such as reflexology and massage and counselling services for the individual and family members.
There is also a weekly bathing service – this is where people can have a bath in a specially adapted bath. It’s often the first service people access if they’re nervous about going to a hospice.
I came away from my visit with so much admiration for the hospice movement and the staff and volunteers who work there. It’s really important that people affected by MSA receive the support they need and hospices can help in more ways that you might think.
If you’re nervous or anxious about contacting your local hospice, just give them a call and see if you can go in for a chat or ask to be referred by your GP. Every hospice offers different services and you can find out more via the Hospice UK website.
Finally, a big thank you to everyone at Woking Hospice. You made me feel so welcome and do an amazing job.
This article was first published on the MSA Trust website and is republished here with permission.
If you or someone you know is affected by multiple system atrophy, or you are a healthcare professional caring for someone with MSA, the MSA Trust and their specialist MSA nurses can offer information, advice and support. Find out more on the charity’s website.