At the hospice we have a fairly relaxed view when it comes to visitors. There are no set visiting times and everyone is welcome, including the family pets. For many of our patients it’s the small things that can often mean the most.
For Shirley Morris, from Madeley, a visit from a very special four-legged friend provided her with a positive boost while staying at our Telford hospice. Shirley, who regularly attends our Day Hospice, was able to meet Lilly the horse while spending time as an inpatient on Alexandra Ward in April 2013.
“I came in just over a week ago because the cancer in my neck has got a bit worse and has swollen up which was causing problems with my breathing. The hospice is great and the nurses are all so nice but spending so much time in your room you start to miss normality a bit,” says Shirley.
“Julie, one of the Day Hospice nurses, always comes to talk to me about her horses Lilly and Pudsey. I used to ride horses as a child and they have always been a passion of mine. Later on in life I always thought I’d be able to have another horse until my breast cancer spread to my bones then I realised I couldn’t ride. Although I could never get on a horse again I still would like to cuddle one again.
“Julie came to see me on the ward and we started talking about her horses. I just happened to mention that I would love to see them and Julie said she’d try to bring one in and make my wish come true. I didn’t think for one minute she’d do it.”
Julie kept her promise to Shirley by bringing Lilly to work. The experience is something Shirley says has truly lifted her spirits.
“I was lay here on Friday morning and I was feeling a bit down when I just happened to glance out of the window and all I could see was this great white horse walking across the garden. I grabbed my call button for the nurses and pressed it, the nurses were out in the hall way and guessed that I had just seen the horse. One of the nurses came to help me get dressed so I could go out and see Lilly.
“To me she seemed so big, she is only 15 hands and I’m used to riding bigger horses but standing in front of her she seemed huge. I just walked up to her and put my arms around her and she didn’t even budge. It’s almost like she knew that I was ill, she didn’t barge me or nudge me she just stood there. Julie had bathed her the day before so she looked beautiful.
“Amanda, the creative therapist at the hospice, brought down a bag of carrots for me so I could feed Lilly which was brilliant, a real positive experience for me.”
Shirley believes that the lengths staff at the hospice went to in order to help her realise her wish of seeing a horse up close again symbolises what Severn Hospice is all about.
“I absolutely loved Lilly coming to visit and I am so grateful to Julie for brining her in. It gave me a real lift. I’d heard about people bringing dogs into the hospice to visit people but I’d never thought they’d let a horse visit. I have been on a real high since and it has helped me enormously.
“If I hadn’t come to stay at the hospice I probably wouldn’t have got that close to a horse again in my life. They go out of their way to help you and they treat you how you want to be treated. Lilly coming to visit is something I can take away with me in my memory. It was lovely, absolutely lovely.”