Veronica and Riccardo's story: "St John’s helped us realise we weren’t alone."

The effects of loneliness and isolation can have a significant impact on the lives of people living with life-limiting illness and their carers. Studies have shown that people who are in poor health are 3.7 times more likely to feel lonely1 and that 81% of carers have felt lonely or socially isolated because of their caring role2. In response, we recently launched our Winter Appeal to enable us to expand our community outreach to combat loneliness and isolation experienced in our community.

Two people who understand the impact that our community outreach can have are 38-year-old Veronica and her husband, Riccardo. Having moved to the UK from Italy just a few months before Veronica received her cancer diagnosis, the couple found themselves in a new country and separated from their usual support networks when, in their own words, their “world was turned upside down.”

“It was a lot to face, and the hospice helped ease that pressure, that initial shock of the diagnosis and how our lives were going to drastically change overnight,” Veronica explains.

“When I was discharged from hospital I could barely walk from the pain, and I was quite weak, so the St John’s Community team came to us at home. As well as being a source of pain and symptom control, our community nurse discussed the new situation we found ourselves in, the medications I was now going to be on, setting up the equipment I would need, and organised visits from therapists. They also referred us to the day services at the hospice and made sure that in those months when I struggled to walk, the ambulance came to pick me up, so I never missed a week.”

Veronica at home, she is wearing a pink t-shirt and blue jeans.

“St John’s helped us realise we weren’t alone and that there was this amazing community we were a part of and that we could be supported by."

- Veronica.

Riccardo says, “St John’s is a special place. You feel so looked after, supported and like every single member of staff and volunteer you meet genuinely cares about you. There is always a call, a text, or an email and the warmest welcome when you walk through the doors.”

“When you are someone's primary carer, you are together 24/7, and sometimes that’s not easy. I would never have expected that as a carer I could also have received so much support, have my own time to chat with their team and benefit from wonderful therapies like the massages.”

“When we first found St John’s we were in complete disbelief. We thought, how on earth can this amazing care, be free? We kept saying to one another, what can the catch be?” Riccardo laughs as he explains. “But of course, there isn’t one. It’s been a huge help at a time that has been honestly incredibly difficult to accept, process and cope with.”

Veronica, Riccardo and their community nurse, Hideko sit around the kitchen island in their home talking.
Veronica and Riccardo at home with their St John's Hospice community nurse, Hideko.

“The prospect of facing your illness alone is incredibly daunting, it's isolating,” Veronica continues. “St John’s helped us realise we weren’t alone and that there was this amazing community we were a part of and that we could be supported by."

Your support of our Winter Appeal can help us be there for many more patients and their carers just like Veronica and Riccardo, ensuring that they do not feel alone in their situation.  

A donation of £35 could fund an at-home visit from a community nurse who provides pain and symptom management as well as emotional and practical support.

To donate to the appeal today, please click here.


[1] Age UK, 'All the Lonely People: Loneliness in Later Life' (2018).

[2] Carers UK, ‘Facts about carers’ policy briefing (2019).

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