A new Wellbeing Service offering support for people with a life-limiting illness has been launched at local hospice Treetops Hospice Care.

Treetops, based in Risley, provides nursing care and emotional support for adults with life-limiting conditions such as cancer, motor neurone disease, respiratory conditions and heart failure. Services are provided free of charge to people living in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and last year the hospice supported over 1,800 people and their families.

The new Wellbeing Service includes a range of groups including a Men’s Group, a Get Moving exercise group, Gardening Group, Singing Group, Drop In Café and Spa Days – all aimed at encouraging people to maintain their quality of life and capacity to care for themselves.

Sharing skills and knowledge to be able to manage and maintain quality of life

Phil Shreeve, Treetops director of clinical services explained more:

“When you are living with a life-limiting illness it can be difficult to know what is most important for you and how to achieve it. It could be your emotional wellbeing, your physical health or simply maintaining a sense of normality.

“We understand that wellbeing is about every area of your life including physical, emotional, spiritual and social aspects. The new Wellbeing programme offers support to help people deal with concerns that may arise as a result of their condition as well as sharing skills and knowledge to be able to manage and maintain quality of life.”

The Wellbeing Drop In Café on Thursdays is for people with a life-limiting condition as well as those who’ve been bereaved.

It’s helped me and come at the right time as I’ve been struggling a bit

Tony Rogers, 77, from Ilkeston, explained why he started attending:

“My wife, Margaret, died three years ago. Treetops were able to support us with Hospice at Home nurses for her at night and during the day. They’d only given her six months but with Treetops help and my help, she lived for another two years.

“Margaret and I had known each other for over sixty years and been married for coming up to 53 years. We went to school together in Kimberley- she sat in front of me at school and I once tied her plaits to the chair!

“I could never, ever repay Treetops for the service and support they gave me and her. The support made me a bit stronger. You don’t realise how tired you are and how wearying it is. You need, at times, a crutch to lean on. It was so essential and I could never thank Treetops enough.

“I’ve only just recently got round to passing on her clothes – I took all her things to a Treetops charity shop. What made it extra difficult is we lost a son many years ago, at age 26, and we had some of his things too.

“I got a little depressed and down but I saw an advert for the Wellbeing Café and thought I’d come along and my children thought it was a good idea.

“It’s nice to be treated normally here. When people are ill, others tend to treat you differently when that’s not what you need. It’s helped me and come at the right time as I’ve been struggling a bit.  I’d not been to the hospice before – it’s very friendly and homely but I’m not surprised. I’m definitely going to come again.”

It’s given me something to look forward to and something to get up for

Mike Rhodes, 74, from Long Eaton, attends the Men’s Group on a Monday morning:

Mike & Diane Rhodes

“In 2017, I found out I had a tumour in my chest on my thyroid gland. It had got to come out to help me breathe. I went in for the operation but it all went wrong. I’m paralysed on my left side including my diaphragm so I only function on half my lungs – I have to have oxygen at night. I have COPD as well.

“Since coming out of hospital I’ve not been out much and all I do at home is sit around not doing anything. I was getting to the stage where I was frustrated and down. I can’t do anything now at home as I can’t breathe properly

“I was very impressed when we first came and it’s not what we imagined. It’s much more active and the people are so nice and sociable. It’s all men and we chat about our lives and interests.

“My wife brings me here as I can’t drive. She’s been through a lot and she’s been an absolute diamond. She sees a big difference in me. It’s given me something to look forward to and something to get up for. It’s really worthwhile.”

It’s so welcoming and the atmosphere is fantastic

Mike’s wife, Diane, 67, added:

“Mike was getting a bit depressed and not getting up, so he started going to the Men’s Group. He loves it. He’s up and dressed and ready to go on a Monday morning and thoroughly enjoys it. He seems less down and a bit more back to himself. He’s mixing with other people and not just sitting at home with me.

“It’s beautiful here and not at all as I imagined. It’s so welcoming and the atmosphere is fantastic. You’re made to feel very welcomed and I’m hoping to come to a Carer’s Meeting sometime in the future.”

It makes you feel human

Jo, 47, from Shelton Lock has enjoyed the Treetops Spa Days – supported bathing for those who find it difficult to have a proper bath or shower at home:

“It’s hard to describe to someone who’s able-bodied how much a bath means to you. At home I have a wet room with a shower chair so I am nice and clean, but a bath is more than just getting clean, it’s relaxing. I used to spend nearly every night in the bath with candles, music playing and relaxing – it used to be part of my routine. But since I got poorly five years ago, not being able to get in and have a bath – it was awful.

“There’s help to get in the bath so I’m not using all my energy to get in or back out. There’s plenty of privacy and the staff are brilliant at maintaining your dignity. It’s only one member of staff and they keep you covered with towels. They will only do what you want them to do so there’s no taking your independence away.

“The room isn’t bright like a hospital room. It’s dim, there’s lights and music playing – and a Jacuzzi setting to help with circulation. It’s like going to a spa and when you’re sick, you can’t go there. Here there is no effort and.

“I feel safe – I know the staff are around if I need them but I can be left alone to soak in the water and just relax.”

Full details of the Wellbeing Space can be found on the Treetops website here.

Treetops also offers confidential support and advice from diagnosis onwards, Hospice at Home nurses to care for people at the end of life in their own home and Therapeutic Services including counselling, art therapy and complementary therapy.