‘It’s not about dying – it’s about living’: Inside the Teesside hospice that ‘feels like home’

Supporting the area for over 40 years, Teesside Hospice still remains a central part of the community.

The hospice, which is a charity partly funded by the government, is there to provide specialist palliative care for life-threatening illnesses. While some people only visit for several weeks and others for several years, the hospice aims to improve symptoms, offer support and provide a safe environment.

We visited Teesside Hospice to speak to residents, staff and directors about the positive impact the hospice has had on people with chronic conditions and their families. Many residents said they did not view the hospice as a place to come to end their lives, but as a place to “relive.”

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Close friends Marcelle McGeady, 57, and Gillian Sill, 61, sadly both have incurable cancer, but say they are ‘still loving life’ at hospice. Marcelle joined just five weeks ago after Gill persuaded her to visit, something she initially felt very worried about.



Gillian Sill and Marcelle McGeady, who use the wellness center

Marcelle, who visits the hospice weekly now, said: ‘I was worried and worried about the word ‘hospice’. It’s been the most amazing experience, and that’s why I have I may have incurable cancer, but I don’t even think about it here, I feel alive, and that’s thanks to all staff.

“I look forward to coming every Thursday. I don’t even think of the word cancer when I come here. I forget everything and it’s thanks to the wonderful staff, patients and friends. There is not a member of staff that you cannot speak to.

“I know I want to be here. We get love, support, care and pain relief all here. It gives me a chance to dress and feel good, and that’s what what it’s like to be here.”

Gill, who is a mother of three and lives in Redcar like Marcelle, spoke of the warmth of the hospice. “You walk through the doors and you feel like someone has an arm around you. Many of us walk in the same shoes, and it’s much easier to talk to people here than to your loved ones because that you don’t want to upset them.



Gillian Sill says she
Gillian Sill says she ‘feels so safe’ at the center

“A nurse popped her head last week and said, ‘There’s too much laughter here!’ We laugh. We feel so safe here, it’s like a family. There’s a doctor there all the time. I want to know that my family will be supported and that’s the only thing they do here.

“When you hear the word hospice you feel like it’s a place to go to die. But it’s so much more. The staff are amazing. It’s not about dying, it’s about living – and it’s about to enjoy the time and create memories.”

Some of the memories made at the wellness center include a variety of sessions, some focusing on therapeutic needs such as relaxation and yoga and others on educational and support needs. Marcelle and Gillian said they recently took part in fun arts and crafts classes, making everything from flowers to birthday cards.



Gillian Sill and Marcelle McGeady at an arts and crafts session
Gillian Sill and Marcelle McGeady at an arts and crafts session

Another visitor to the centre, Christine Lazenby, 74, who has stage four lung cancer, said Teesside Hospice had ‘restored her faith and conviction’ after a painful number of years. She said: “It changed my life. I was in really bad shape. When I arrived I was in a lot of pain and emotional distress.



Christine Lazenby said Teesside Hospice has
Christine Lazenby said Teesside Hospice had ‘restored her faith and belief’

“From nurses to doctors, everyone is amazing here. They saved my life – they’re all angels. Everyone is treated the same.

The hospice got Christine’s symptoms under control when she arrived and she was able to sleep for the first time in two years. The mother-of-two, who was hospitalized for two weeks and now attends weekly, said: “I woke up pain free, everything felt surreal and I started to improve, all thanks to the staff. and the amazing hospice volunteers.”



The wellness area of ​​the hospice
The wellness area of ​​the hospice

Another visitor to Teesside Hospice is Marilyn Louca, 62, who suffers from severe pulmonary fibrosis. Initially, she was afraid to go because she had to take care of her son, who has a severe disability.

She said: “I have been coming for five weeks now. I was so anxious and depressed because of the illness. I have a disabled son that I have to take care of and I was so worried about him. When I arrived I couldn’t leave a member yet My social worker Julie helped set things up – I was terrified of leaving him but with the help of the workers there is now a plan in place for him.



Marilyn Louca, who uses the wellness center
Marilyn Louca, who uses the wellness center

Marilyn added that she also took care of her husband when he fell ill: “I cared for my husband who suffered from a chronic illness for 14 years, and he died 11 years ago. I I did everything and I had the strength to do it. From the first day until his last day, I sat and held his hand. I tried to keep him positive until the end.

She added that she couldn’t thank the hospice enough: “Everyone understands people and everyone is so friendly and welcoming. You think you come here to die – but they actually give your life back. “

Teesside Hospice staff are also very proud of the work done by the charity. Kimberley Hunt, sister of the wellness centre, added: “I think it’s a place where people can come and get advice and learn to live with their conditions. They get support and can make friendships as they “They’re planning for the future. It’s a really safe place to vent your emotions.”



Wellness Center Sister Kimberley Hunt
Wellness Center Sister Kimberley Hunt

Debbie Edwards, Director of Nursing and Quality, said: “People think you come to hospice to die, but we are bigger than that. Our team is very unique, with experienced medical and nursing staff It’s a team effort from housekeeping services down to our consultant.



Debbie Edwards, Director of Nursing and Quality
Debbie Edwards, Director of Nursing and Quality

“Patients have come to us from the hospital with hours to live, and three months later they’re still walking around. It’s about being cared for and cared for, with the treatment that’s right for them.”

Angie Wardle, Finance Director, added: “I’ve been here for 14 years, and one of our biggest financial challenges is that we’re only one-third funded by the NHS. We have things like our lottery and our fundraising events to try and capture public support.”

We also spoke to nurses at the hospice, and Hannah Kennedy, 25, has only worked here for a month but “loves” her job. She always wanted to work at Teesside Hospice as her mother visited the charity before she died. She said: I love it here – it’s so relaxed. I love the support the staff give to patients and to each other. My mum was here before she died, so it’s something I’ve always wanted to come and give back.”



Hannah Kennedy has worked at Teesside Hospice for over a year
Hannah Kennedy has worked at Teesside Hospice for over a year

Vicky Smith, who has worked here for a year, said: “People feel like people are in a bed and come here to die. We have classes, families can come visit us and we have a café that is opening. a huge difference for visitors and improves their quality of life.”

To find out more about Teesside Hospice visit www.teessidehospice.org.

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