Maria's story: “When I walk in here, it is like walking into heaven.”

Everyone at our Wellbeing Centre can tell you about 92-year-old patient Maria. She is a remarkable woman who has dedicated her life to looking after others and is a huge part of our community. Having moved to the UK in her twenties, Maria has worked as a cleaner, housekeeper, and nurse, as well as volunteering for organisations that help combat loneliness experienced by older people.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Maria’s health began to deteriorate leading her GP to refer her to our hospice and in particular, our community outreach services, knowing the significant impact these could have not only on her physical health but also her mental health and wellbeing.

“I remember my doctor telling me, ‘I think we should look at referring you to St John’s Hospice’,” Maria recalls. “I think she could see I was worried from the look on my face, because she said, ‘It’s not because you’re dying Maria. They are a local organisation who will be able to help you so much more.’ What followed all sounded so wonderful.”

“She told me about having a nurse who could visit me at home to help get my symptoms under control, help sort equipment I needed and things like that. She also told me about the day services, where I’d be able to have therapies but also companionship.”

“When Stuart the nurse came to visit me at home for the first time, I was so impressed. He managed to get so much sorted, so efficiently. After this first visit, he also referred me to get support from his colleagues in the Therapy team. Just a few days later someone came over, and assessed me at home, looking at how I got in and out of bed, my chairs and everything like that. She then recommended what I would need. Not only that, but she got on to all the right people to help me get it, I just couldn’t believe it. St John’s is a true blessing.”

Maria walks into the Wellbeing Centre with her stroller followed by two ambulance drivers. She is smiling as she sees the balloons and sign wishing patients 'welcome back' greetings.

“Some days I feel so lonely at home. It is depressing. When I walk in here [the Wellbeing Centre], it is like walking into heaven.”


“Now, Stuart only visits me if I feel like I really need him, otherwise, he calls me up and we chat through everything on my phone like whether my pain is ok or if any of my symptoms have flared up. He’s wonderful.”

“As well as that I go to the Wellbeing Centre. Where we have music, we laugh, and we chat all day long. I have my friends. It’s a wonderful place, a true community. Everybody loves coming and we’re all so grateful that a place like this exists. And now, thanks to all these changes, it’s even better than before.”

“When I am here, I have physiotherapy, which really helps with my arthritis, and I have massages and reiki. We also have activities, music therapy, arts, and crafts. There’s always something happening.”

“I feel like saying thank you to St John’s Hospice is not enough, simply because it will never repay them for everything that they do for me, for us. Anything we could ever need or want; they are always there and willing to help us. Thank you just doesn’t cut it.”

Your support of our Winter Appeal can help us be there for many more patients just like Maria ensuring that they do not feel alone in their situation and can access the services they need to live well for longer.

Whether this is making adaptations to their home and providing additional equipment, making weekly visits to provide medical care and support in their own homes, or bringing them to our new Wellbeing Centre where they can benefit from specialist nursing and therapies, do activities, and socialise with other people living with a life-limiting illness.

To donate to the appeal today, please click here.

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