Albert Hunter, 77, Newham
When Albert was diagnosed with heart failure five years ago it was a bit of a shock. He was occasionally feeling tired but didn’t realise that it could be because of his heart. Albert underwent an operation to try and regulate his heart and was given a drug to thin the blood. Although there was an improvement it didn’t cure the condition.
The nurse at the hospital referred Albert to St Joseph’s to attend the Heart Failure Group. He was reluctant to come and first as he had a friend who came to St Joseph’s Hospice to die, so he thought it was just about dying.
What support are you getting now?
"I wouldn’t be without it now. I still attend the Heart Failure Group and come to the coffee mornings every fortnight. I’ve tried lots of other new things that I never thought I would enjoy, including tai chi and meditation. I also love Doodle Club where the group make collages together and share and support each other over coffee and cake. It’s a real opportunity to share our concerns and help and support each other as they are all going through similar problems to me."
How is this support helping you?
"I was made redundant and I really missed working. I enjoy the company and simply just having a chat. When I come to St Joseph’s Hospice, there’s always someone to talk to. We talk about things that are on our mind and when you’re worried about something – like sleeping – there is always someone there who might be able to help.
I also love the company and the comradeship. People can get so lonely during the day, being stuck indoors. We all need the company. My wife used to go to work every day from 6am-3pm. I still walk her to the bus stop every morning. Once she was gone, I’d be on my own: I just didn’t know what to do with myself.
When I’m sat in the heart failure group – when you meet other people – you soon see that there is always someone who is worse off than you. It gives you a great sense of perspective.”
Was there anything that surprised you about St Joseph’s Hospice?
"When the nurse suggested I come to St Joseph’s Hospice I made every excuse I could not to come. I kept telling her I was too busy and that I couldn’t take time off work. But then I had a few days off and I didn’t have any excuses not to come and after a few days it was fine and I just kept coming. I really enjoy coming here."
If someone was referred to the hospice and was nervous about coming here – what would you tell them?
"There’s nothing to be nervous about. It’s not what people think, it’s not all about death. We have a really good laugh, especially at Doodle Club and it’s great to be doing something with people in a similar situation. The art teacher, Eileen (one of the hospice volunteers) is really good."