A health and wellbeing centre is helping to change the way that people think of hospice care.
The Spring Centre at the Hospice of St Francis has been running since May last year and has been such a success that there are plans afoot to expand what’s on offer.
It’s offers practical and holistic support to patients recently diagnosed or living with serious illness and their carers, and also acts as a community hub with a range of activities aimed at the general public.
It was made possible thanks to some funding from Macmillan Cancer Care, who have provided money for some of the services for a period of 18 months, and is being run in partnership with Watford’s Peace Hospice.
Spring Centre manager Kimberley McLaughlin said: “What is really important at the Spring Centre is focusing on self-management and self-care.
“We want to widen access to as many people as possible because we realise that the older we get and the longer we are living there are going to be more and more people that are going to need support.
“We need to really address it and we need to find ways to help people to help themselves.”
But the Northchurch-based hospice staff recognise that many people are fearful of visiting a place that most associate with dying and death.
Kimberley said: “There is a lot of fear around coming to a hospice, a lot of people will feel there is no way I would go to a hospice, so calling it the Spring Centre is one way we hope will encourage people to actually come and find support themselves.”
The centre, which is part of the main hospice building in Shootersway, is open to anyone.
Recent courses have included sessions for men with prostate cancer, bereaved children, woman who are battling breast cancer, a HOPE course, which helps people approach life differently after an illness and get their confidence back, fatigue management, physiotherapy, gym sessions and a gardening group.
One of the people benefiting is 76-year-old Janet Ross, of Berkhamsted, who visits the Spring Centre to help her manage symptoms of Charcot Marie Tooth Disease, which has confined her to a wheelchair.
She enjoys using an exercise bike and then relaxing massages, which it is hoped will help ease swelling in her legs.
“I’m sure it does my muscles good by using the bike because I don’t use my legs at all so it is quite nice to get the old circulation going,” said Janet.
So far, more than 1,000 people have been helped through the centre.
And there are plans to introduce more courses, including help for stroke patients and workshops for young people who have lost a spouse.
There’s also help for carers with the chance to meet others doing the same tough job, attend relaxation sessions or sign up to training courses.
Hospice chief executive Dr Ros Taylor said: “We are helping people to get back on their feet, learn how to manage the future themselves and giving people the tools to move on in life.”
To find out more about what’s on offer at the Spring Centre visit www.stfrancis.org.uk/springcentre or call 01442 869550.