John Sutcliffe is a volunteer at Wirral Hospice where I support Day Therapy patients and work as a gardener. I was married for nearly 50 years and we have three children; two sons and one daughter, and six grandchildren. All live locally – I’m chief babysitter!
I was brought up in Wallasey and worked away at sea but when I returned I met Maria, a nurse from Upton who worked at Clatterbridge. We were married in 1969. Maria worked as a nurse for 40 years and I worked for Levers and Group 4 security. Maria and I had a common interest in travel and shared many happy holidays together. My main interests now are gardening and supporting Liverpool football Club.
How long has Wirral Hospice been a part of your life?
Approximately 15 years ago Maria was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which was when I first became involved in the hospice. Whilst Maria was coming to the hospice, I was involved in the Carers group and the Patients and Carers feedback group. Since losing Maria in 2015 I have continued to support the feedback group and have attended the Bereavement Support group and now, volunteering as a gardener and supporter of patients in the Day Therapy Unit.
During Maria’s time as a patient she was fortunate to experience all the services provided – initially as an outpatient, then attending the weekly Day Therapy sessions, then support back at home via the Hospice at Home service and also as an Inpatient. Throughout this time we saw the hospice grow and change through a number of building developments which created “The Hub” café, the new Outpatients department and the multi-disciplinary / patient and family support team areas. During the building works the services we attended were relocated but this did not compromise the amazing all round care we received from the wonderful doctors, clinical team and volunteers.
Being a member of the Patient Involvement group has been a great way for me to give back to the hospice: I was consulted on processes, leaflets and services and I also carried out a Healthcare inspection with external governing bodies which was a chance to share our positive experience of hospice care.
My volunteer role with Day Therapy patients is great as I am gardening with them – this is proving to be a wonderful alternative therapy, and even better we are now producing potatoes, tomatoes, onions and more that we can then pass to the kitchen to use which is really satisfying!
What are your Hospice Highlights?
The main highlight for me has to be the hospice staff – nothing is too much effort. Throughout all the services we experienced, the staff would go above and beyond to support not just Maria but myself and all the family.
When Maria attended her weekly Day Therapy session, I was invited to stay and attend a Carers group which was specifically for patients’ partners and/or their careers. The team who ran this provided wonderful opportunity for support where, over coffee and cake you could ask questions, talk through day to day issues and share experiences of life as a career with others going through the same thing, which helped to prepare you for the journey ahead.
The bereavement support was also a highlight for me – After some initial one to one counselling I joined a bereavement support group where we met every two weeks for about two years. These people became friends for life as we still meet up now and have even been away on holiday together!
Now a big highlight for me is to work with patients in Day Therapy who I know will benefit from their time here because they are going to be made to feel well. I will never forget what one of the consultants said to me when Maria was a Day Therapy patient “You don’t come here to die, you come here for us to control your medication, control your pain and get you home”.
What does hospice care mean to you?
For me the hospice care means the personal touch, where the staff have time to listen not just to the patient, but to the partners, the children and the extended family who are just as important to them. The wonderful team of medics and nurses have the skills to support families when they really do need it.
I couldn’t put a rating on Wirral Hospice – if I did it would be a million stars! You’re made to feel like family and it starts to feel like home.
I can never repay the team at Wirral hospice for what they did but volunteering is my way of giving something back.