Dispelling hospice misconceptions – Mike’s story

It’s a common misconception that a hospice is a place where someone goes to die. While it’s true that a patient may come to stay at Dorothy House to spend the final few days of their life, there are several other reasons why they come to stay with us. A patient may stay at the Hospice Inpatient Unit (IPU) to have their needs assessed, for symptom management, or to help them adjust to physical changes because of their illness. One of those patients is Mike.

Mikes's story is poignant for dispelling hospice misconceptions and myths. Mike and his wife Liz both admitted that they were under the impression that people come to a hospice to spend their final days, but since Mike’s stay, they have a whole new outlook.

Mike's diagnosis

Mike, from Horningsham near Warminster, came to stay on our Inpatient Unit at Winsley recently after he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). After undergoing tests in 2019, spanning across multiple hospitals including Oxford, Bristol and the RUH, his diagnosis was confirmed in 2020.

While Mike and his wife, Liz, were familiar with Dorothy House through our charity shops, both donating and purchasing items after they moved to the area, they also became aware of us through another source. A committed rugby fan, having played at Beaconsfield Rugby Club for over 20 years and for captaining The Bandits, the social side, for several years, Mike discovered our logo on the sleeve of a rugby shirt he purchased in Bath.

“It had two charities on the sleeve, Dorothy House and It’s in the Bag, the testicular cancer charity. That’s when I first became fully aware of the shops, around Frome and Warminster.”

Nurse specialist: 'Sunshine Sarah'

The couple’s initial awareness of the Hospice was over ten years ago, but it was Mike’s GP who pointed him towards how we could support him following his diagnosis. He was then put in contact with Nurse Specialist Sarah, or ‘Sunshine Sarah’ as he calls her!

“There’s always a smile on her face, she’s always upbeat. Just a lovely person. She’s fantastic, someone you can talk to. She knows what’s going on and she’s very compassionate.”

Liz added: “She has proved the capability of getting the communication right. Doctors surgeries, hospitals, pharmacists, consultants, she puts Dorothy House in the middle and enabled connections to all those hubs. It can’t be easy!”

Two week stay on the Inpatient Unit

Mike spent two weeks on the Inpatient Unit at Winsley for respite and told us that his stay had gone really well. “The staff are amazing. From the medical staff to the care assistants, everyone’s been brilliant. The staff always come in and say goodnight when they go home in the evening.”

Everyone has a smile on their face!” Liz added.

Alongside the staff and the care he was receiving, Mike also told us how much he loved the grounds here at the Hospice and how much he valued being in such a peaceful setting.

“When you’re ill, you don’t want to be looking at motorways or anything else. I can go out in the garden and sit and enjoy the tranquillity, which to me is very important. You can close your eyes and listen to the birds. It’s very simple, but it counts for a lot when you’re ill.”

Mike with rugby player Tom Dunn - dispelling hospice misconceptions

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If you have received a palliative diagnosis or are caring for someone with a life limiting illness, we are here for you.

To find out more about how Dorothy House can support you and your family, check out our services here.