The ‘brilliant’ support offered by South Bucks Hospice during the lockdown has been praised by the wife of a Parkinson’s Disease patient.

Sarah Jones, a full-time carer for husband Martin, described the hospice as ‘an essential service’ and said: “During the pandemic, everything stopped apart from the support of South Bucks Hospice.

When you are in the thick of it, you cannot think, so it was wonderful to receive regular support from the hospice which we didn’t even have to request. They rang each week without fail to ask if we had our shopping and our medication, and to see how we were coping. There was no pressure and you could talk as long or as little as you wanted.”

She added: “People talk about the essential services - for me and Martin, South Bucks Hospice is our essential service.”

Martin, 67, a former engineer from Chesham, was diagnosed 15 years ago with Parkinson’s, a disorder of the central nervous system, and also developed dementia about three years ago. He only began attending the hospice - based at Butterfly House in High Wycombe – a year ago, but both he and Sarah are delighted with its services.

Mother-of-two Sarah, 65, a retired occupational therapist, explained: “As his condition began to deteriorate, we weren’t aware of the hospice. It was only when he started having falls that the Parkinson’s nurse referred Martin to South Bucks Hospice.

“Martin was a bit taken back when he heard it called a day hospice and he convinced himself he was going for end-of-life care. But once we started attending, the staff were very reassuring. They were quite clear it was somewhere he could go to get the treatment and support he needed.”

Sarah describes the hospice as a very happy place where Martin feels comfortable.

“With all the therapies he was getting, such as massages, physiotherapy and even a facial, he was absolutely delighted with it. Before the lockdown, he really looked forward to going every Tuesday and meeting other people. I guess for me, it has a feeling of a home. Martin liked the fact he went there and got a cup of tea and a biscuit. He also liked the fact the staff didn’t use medical jargon all the time and he always understood what they were saying.”

The hospice's services also proved of huge help to Sarah.

“What is great about it, with him going to the hospice for the best part of the day, it allows me to do my shopping, get the washing done and still have time to read a book or go for a walk,” said Sarah.

She was also provided with counselling as well as support from the hospice’s ‘almoner’ Gerry Wigfield, a former lawyer. His role is to make the lives of patients and carers easier by cutting through red tape for them.

Gerry’s guidance has proved enormously helpful in terms of helping to sort out such things as bills and benefit entitlements, says Sarah. She also praised the counselling service as ‘amazing’.

“For me, it was brilliant having the counselling and Gerry’s help – but South Bucks Hospice really came into its own on lockdown when the nurse, Karen, rang me every Tuesday to see how we were coping.”

The hospice had to temporarily close at the end of March, but its counselling and nursing support continued over the telephone.

Sarah said it was thanks to these regular calls that ‘carers stress’ was identified, and Gerry and Karen alerted the official services who then stepped in to give additional support.

Sarah added: “I think the charity sector should be funded almost equally as the NHS and anything additional that the charities make through their shops and fundraising could allow them to provide a more significant service. I want to get the point across that when the pandemic happened, we were not abandoned by South Bucks Hospice.”