Fiona from Falkirk in Scotland lives with pulmonary arterial hypertension and pulmonary fibrosis. She has been accessing services from her local hospice since the end of 2019.

“When hospice care was first mentioned I was shocked, but the first time I visited the hospice I was surprised by how nice, cheerful and friendly it was.

I went to what’s known as ‘day therapy sessions’ every week until lockdown began. A volunteer driver would pick me up with my oxygen tank and my handbags and the first thing I’d do when I arrived was sit and have a cup of tea with everyone.  

At any one time there would be between ten and 20 of us in a group, all with different health conditions. A lot have cancer, and a few have breathing conditions, such as COPD. It’s a real mixture.

We could then choose what activities we would like to do; anything from crafting to nail treatments and complementary therapies.

I’ve had massages there that have felt like counselling sessions because you can just talk to the massage therapist. They just listen, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

The care continued even through lockdown. We’ve had group chats via Zoom, and the hospice even sent us tea and biscuits out to our houses so we could all enjoy them together.

We’ve been sent craft projects too. And when I was in hospital having my IV line fitted, they contacted me every week to see how I was. I’ve made a lot of friends through the hospice.

People hear the word ‘palliative’ and all they hear is ‘end of life’. But hospice care is such a positive thing, and I’m really missing being able to go to my weekly sessions.

If you are offered hospice care, my advice would be to grab it with both hands. Take any help that you’re offered. As my father would say, refuse nothing but blows! It’s taken me a long time to learn to accept help.”