Andrew's story

Having conversations about your wishes for the future if you become unwell is a tough but important task. It gives you the chance to talk about your thoughts and wishes for care and treatment while you are still well or have become less well and it becomes vitally important if you can’t make decisions for yourself.

But that doesn’t mean these conversations are easy. St Margaret’s supports patients like Andrew to talk about what matters to them and plan ahead for the future.

Andrew was referred to St Margaret’s Hospice last year after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 COPD, and he told us how the hospice helped him to be honest with his family about his condition and made a life-long dream a reality.

“I was nervous to come to the hospice initially as I didn’t know what it would be like, but it’s been such a great help to me. From the first conversation I had over the phone with staff from the Sunflower Centre I was made to feel welcome,” Andrew said.

“I’ve managed to get a lot of things in place now with their support which I hadn’t even thought about like speaking to my family about my condition. I’d found it really difficult to speak to my children about my illness and used to hide it as I didn’t want them to be upset. The staff at the Sunflower Centre helped me to get the confidence to be honest and open with my family about my illness. I found that the more I opened up to my children about my condition the easier things became. Of course, they were upset at first but now they understand and it’s great for me to be able to talk to them about it and have their support.

“Opening up to my family has taken a lot of stress and pressure off my shoulders, I feel a lot more relaxed now that I am being honest, and I don’t have to hide anything. I’ve also spoken to the hospice about my wish to die here and they are helping to arrange a visit with me and my children so they can see what it’s like and know where I am going to be. I want to stay at home for as long as I can but when I do reach the end of my life, I want to be comfortable in a peaceful place and St Margaret’s can give that to me. 

“St Margaret’s has also helped me to get my funeral arrangements in order right down to where I want my ashes scattered. My daughter died a while ago when she was just 8 years old, and it completely changed my outlook on life. I want my ashes to be interned with hers so we will be back together again. These are difficult conversations to have but it’s great for me to plan ahead for the future.”

Andrew with his completed tapestry at the Sunflower Centre 

Staff at the Sunflower Centre help patients like Andrew to plan ahead so they can talk about their thoughts and wishes for the future while they are still well. But the care doesn’t stop there…

The team provides a holistic service to help patients meet their physical, emotional and social needs, paying close attention to what matters to the patient and helping them to plan and reach their goals. For some this is something as simple as walking down to their local shop to get some milk but for Andrew, it was completing a family heirloom.

“Volunteers at the Sunflower Centre helped me to make one of my dreams come true, completing my Mum’s tapestry. My Mum had dementia and my two older sisters, and my brother had a lovely hand sewn picture from her, but I didn’t,” Andrew. “She had started a tapestry for me years ago, but it had never been finished. Every time I went to go and visit her in Plymouth, she said she would finish it for me but sadly she caught Covid-19 last year and didn’t get the chance to before she died.

“I’d lost hope that I could ever get it completed but I spoke to two of the volunteers at the Sunflower Centre about it and one of them said she knew a lady who could help. They sent the tapestry off to her and a few weeks later I was told it was all done. It was honestly so special to see it when it was finished, it was an emotional day for me as I’d wanted it to be fixed for so long. I had a plaque put on it in memory of my Mum, so now it can be passed on to my children in the future. It’s amazing and meant so much to me.

“The Sunflower Centre gives me peace and helps me forget that I’m ill for a bit. It also gives my partner a break which is great as she does such a lot for me. It’s such a homely and comfortable environment and the staff will always help you if you have a problem. The staff ask you about what matters to you and what’s important in the future and it makes such a difference to be honest about your feelings. It’s made such a difference to me and I’d really encourage others to support the hospice.”

We’d like to thank Andrew for sharing his story.

Last updated: Monday, 30 January 2023 

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