PATIENTS who use the day service at Prospect Hospice say it is the highlight of their week and gives them something to get out of bed for.

The high praise for the hospice comes during national Hospice Care Week, a nationally co-ordinated initiative to highlight the care hospices provide to the people of their communities up and down the country.

At Prospect, patients, volunteers and staff have been getting involved in a bid to raise awareness of the hospice linked to the week’s theme, which is ‘Be Surprised’.

Patient Norma Miller, 59, has been attending the day hospice since January.

She said: “I didn’t know what to expect before I came to the hospice, I just thought it would be all doom and gloom.

“I have had friends that have stayed here but I never came to see them because I wanted to remember them as they were.

“I was also surprised that they catered for people with severe asthma like myself and people with heart failure. I thought you had to have cancer to come here and I didn’t think they would be able to cope with me.

“The help they can give you to come to terms with an illness is amazing – I was diagnosed with asthma when I was 19 and I had never accepted it.

“Since I have been coming here I have also had a stroke, but they have got me up walking now.

“I’ve made lots of friends as it is such a friendly atmosphere. I look forward to it. It gives me a reason to get up on a Wednesday morning.”

Ann Hosoya, 56, of Stratton St Margaret, and Carol Phelps, 67, of Greenmeadow, met at the hospice while attending a breathlessness course. Ann said: “Initially for me, when my GP said about going to the hospice I thought ‘Oh gosh’, but it is lovely and friendly, very welcoming.”

Carol said: “It has been a lifesaver and it gives you such a boost and makes you realise that you aren’t suffering on your own.

“You get support from each other.”

Sylvia Turnbull, 85, of West Overton, has stomach cancer but said attending the day hospice is a huge help to both her and her daughter.

“It gives my daughter a total break for the day,” she said.

“I was amazed at how generous everyone is. The volunteers are brilliant and they don’t seem to think twice about helping out.

“When I first came I thought I had to pay, so that was a huge surprise to me because I know it costs so much to keep a place like this running.”

Throughout the week, Prospect has been displaying a series of posters in and around the hospice to counter some of the lesser known aspects of their work.

Hospice spokesperson Andrew Thompson said: “Some of the things we are trying to highlight during the week are the number of patients and families we’ve supported.

“The fact that around 80 per cent of our work is delivered in the community in patient homes, at the GWH and in care homes, and that the care that we provide costs £5.4m each year and only a quarter of that comes from the NHS and statutory services.

“We hope that the outcome of the week is a community that is more aware of the range of care that we provide and the ways in which they can support our work.”

To contribute to Prospect’s activity visit their Facebook page or tweet @prospecthospice using the hashtags #hospicecareweek and #prospecthospice.