'Iron Lady' Greta back on track with the help of hospice's Hawthorne Centre

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Greta from Offley has praised the Hawthorne Centre for helping her progress following the stress of lockdown last year - Credit: Garden House Hospice Care

An Offley woman has explained how a hospice service has helped with her breathing, and is encouraging others who need help to reach out.

The Hawthorne Centre, at Garden House Hospice Care, has been working hard to bring confidence and independence back into the lives of those living with life-limiting conditions.

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Greta using the Hawthorne Centre Gym - Credit: Garden House Hospice Care

Greta, 77, read an article in the Comet about the support the Hawthorne Centre gives patients who have heart failure - and thought it might be a way to help with her breathing problems.

Initially anxious about getting in touch, she eventually called the centre a few months before the pandemic started, and she’s delighted that she did.

"It’s not easy on your own but I’m very glad I’ve come," she said.

"Coming to the hospice has made a huge difference. They’ve done amazing things for me and within a little while I was doing really well. They call me The Iron Lady.

“But then lockdown came. The Hawthorne Centre had to close and I went downhill. I’ve got to climb back up again now. I’ve been locked in at home since the start. My sons do my shopping, I have other family just around the corner, but I haven’t seen my brother or been to the shops for a year.

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“I got to the stage where I didn’t want to leave the house, so it was lovely to get the phone call to say the Hawthorne Centre could re-open and would I like to come back.

"I come every Tuesday and I love it – they’re very good because they encourage me to do things which I don’t do on my own, which is good for my confidence.

"Apart from going to the doctors, it’s the only time I ever go out and I look forward to coming. If I didn’t come to the Hawthorne Centre I wouldn’t go out at all.

“I’ve improved a lot since the centre re-opened. I look forward to coming and I want every day to be a Tuesday! I start with a lap around the garden to get me walking again and to get me motivated.

"Then I do a few little weights to help build up my muscles. I’m normally shut inside all the time so I like seeing all the flowers and being in the fresh air.

“I’m gradually getting back to being The Iron Lady again! It’ll take a while but the team support me very well. I need encouragement and they really give me that. 

“It’s hard when you’re on your own, but I’d say to anyone who’s thinking of coming to the Hawthorne Centre – make the phone call, don’t be frightened.

"They’re all so kind to you, they’re there for you and they want to see you, so don’t be afraid. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t come here. Even if it’s only once a week, it’s somewhere to go, a reason to get dressed in the morning. I love coming, it’s the only place I get spoilt!”

Sarah Bradfield, rehabilitation and wellbeing manager at the hospice, said: “It’s been a difficult winter for everyone but none more so than for the day service users of the Hawthorne Centre.

"Many live alone and were reliant on coming into our centre for their physiotherapy, emotional support and social interaction.

“I’m so proud of our service. From June, we managed to welcome patients back and were seeing people face to face again - with all the proper PPE of course.

“When people hear ‘hospice’ they tend to think only of the end of life but here in the Hawthorne Centre we are all about living as well as you can for as long as you can.

"We know we can make a real difference to people like Greta, so if you have a life limiting condition, be brave pick up the phone or fill in the form on the website. We love getting to know and supporting the people and families in the local community of which we are all a part of.”

To find out more about services offered by The Hawthorne Centre or to self-refer, visit www.ghhospicecare.org.uk/patients-carers/day-services or call 01462 679540.

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