Stan’s Story

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“Coming here is the highlight of my week”

Stanley Ponting, 92, is one of our regular Day Hospice patients, having been referred here after spending some time in our Inpatient Unit. Here, he talks about how St Catherine’s Hospice has made such an impact on his life and how it’s helped him cope with the loss of his beloved wife:

“I first came to St Catherine’s in 2015 having been referred from East Surrey Hospital after treatment for bowel cancer. I have spent time here in the Inpatient Unit but it’s the Day Hospice that has really made a difference.

Before my time here, I’d heard of the hospice through my church in East Grinstead, through collections and fundraising events, but I had no idea the Day Hospice existed. When the nursing team referred me and suggested I attend once a week, I was reluctant at first. I didn’t think it would be my scene; I imagined a bunch of old people just sitting around, not doing anything…just existing. I imagined it to be nothing more than just another care home

But St Catherine’s is anything but.

I wouldn’t miss coming here; it’s the highlight of my week. I come along every Thursday and take part in the activities available, such as meditation, and enjoy the complementary therapies such as hand massages and Reiki. On quieter days, I enjoy just sitting and talking to my friends and the nursing team, or even watching the world go by in The Octagon. When you’re not strong, due to illness, and you’re living a restricted life, this place gives you something. It gives me something to look forward to, something to treasure. I forget about my illness, just for a while, which is a true blessing.

Here, I’m not just one of a crowd.

It’s just about me; the nurses can tell almost immediately if I’m not feeling quite myself, or if I have something on my mind, and they’ll always remember the things I like and don’t like. I’m not just a number. The ease of the Day Hospice is unbelievable. All I really need to do is show up, sit down and the lovely nurses here take care of everything else for me. There’s nothing for me to remember or worry about; it’s all in hand.

My wife died 40 years ago and I miss her terribly. It’s having someone to talk to, to hold your hand and to connect with that I miss. But coming to St Catherine’s has changed that. Here, I can talk to people who truly care, enjoy some personal contact with the nurses and therapy team and share my thoughts and feelings with those who get what I’m going through.

It’s not just emotional support I get here either.

Did you know that St Catherine’s Hospice have a Welfare Advisor who can offer advice on things like how to sort out your will and what to do with your house after you’ve died? Having an expert to talk to about those kinds of things is really helpful and is one less thing for me to worry about for my daughters. Not only that, but the nurses can help manage my medication if needs be. I didn’t think I’d get that kind of service not being on the wards, but nothing is too much trouble for the team here.

A bit of civility: that’s what St Catherine’s offers.

I  honestly couldn’t do without my weekly Day Hospice visits. At Christmas time, the team handed round stars that we could write on and then they’d be hung on the Christmas tree in the Octagon. On mine, I wrote that I wasn’t sure exactly where angels came from, but that some of them live at St Catherine’s. It’s an angelic place, full of compassion, and every day that I come here I feel completely enveloped in love. More people should be talking about the amazing, excellent work that hospice’s like St Catherine’s offer to people like me, who just want somewhere to go that feels like home, a place where you’ll feel protected and looked after.”