Looking at the wider work of hospices, MARIAM GHAEMI met a woman who has been helped by the St Nicholas Hospice Care physiotherapy team both at the hospice centre in Bury St Edmunds and in her own home

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PAT Messenger does not fit the stereotypical image of a hospice patient.

The 72-year-old from Botesdale, near Diss, is not suffering from cancer and she is not living in a hospice.

Currently she is receiving physiotherapy through St Nicholas Hospice Care both at home and at the hospice centre in Bury St Edmunds to ease her pain and aid her sleep.

The grandmother-of-five spoke to the East Anglian Daily Times in aid of Hospice Care Week, which was last week and aims to dispel the myths around hospice services.

She suffers from the conditions Sjogren’s syndrome, scleroderma and arthritis which cause her pain and heavily restrict her mobility.

Sjogren’s syndrome is a disorder of the immune system which reduces the amount of saliva and tears produced and scleroderma results in hard, thickened areas of skin and sometimes problems with internal organs and blood vessels.

Physiotherapist Angela Jiggins sees Mrs Messenger once a week, alternating between the hospice and the patient’s home, with treatment including acupuncture and massage.

Mrs Jiggins said: “The hospice is very good for pain management.

“People think people come to the hospice just for end of life, but people come in for one week/two weeks for symptom management which is pain control.”

Mrs Messenger’s pain and lack of mobility stops her and her husband Mike, 72, from enjoying everyday activities together, such as going to the supermarket, and it has been years since the couple went on holiday.

The physiotherapy Mrs Jiggins is administering is not a cure, but can help them achieve the best quality of life possible.

Speaking of Mrs Jiggins, Mrs Messenger said: “Couldn’t have had anyone better. She’s just wonderful.”

Mrs Messenger added: “It [the hospice] has been a wonderful help to us. I don’t think we could have coped without them really to be honest.

“They have given us such a lot of support, the doctors there and all the staff. We have got to know Angela fairly well as well. It’s marvellous they even come out to your home.”

Mrs Messenger has also stayed at the Bury hospice for four weeks following a hospital operation earlier this year which left her in a great deal of pain.

“It was like being in a five-star hotel. A jacuzzi bath every morning. Wonderful food,” she said.

She added: “Bury is such a happy hospice, it really is. As soon as you go in there the nurses go up and give you a hug.”

The hospice has also been a place where Mrs Messenger – who knits teddy bears and scarves to raise money for the hospice – has made new friends, the couple have enjoyed a spot of lunch and Mr Messenger has been able to enjoy a foot massage.

Mrs Jiggins, who has worked at the hospice for 18 months, said it was not a depressing job by “any stretch of the imagination”.

She said the most rewarding part was “probably trying to give people quality, as much quality as you can to what life they have got left. You just know you are giving them a little bit of control back to their life.”

Barbara Gale, chief executive of St Nicholas Hospice Care, said: “Hospice care is about so much more than our building in Bury St Edmunds.

“We support people in their own homes, in care homes, even on park benches if that’s where they feel most safe. We want to let people know that we are here to give help and advice to people and families right across west Suffolk and Thetford, to help them make the most of every day.”

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