The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House recognises importance of supporting carers

The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House yesterday launched an appeal to raise �750,000 to improve palliative care services in the county. In the second of our five-part series, the EDP spoke to two carers who benefit from the charity's practical and emotional support.

Caring for her husband is a 24/7 job for Doreen Hannant so any offer of a respite - no matter how small – is one she grabs with both hands.

Her husband John was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease six years ago and last year was also diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The Dersingham resident has driven her husband of 47 years the short distance to Tapping House one day a week since April to give both herself and John a chance to relax.

She said: 'John enjoys coming here very much because they give him a nice bath. In our bathroom, he can't get into the bath so it is his highlight of the week to have a proper bath.

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'It's also nice for me too because it means I can go out in the garden without worrying about John. It also frees me up to do a bit of shopping or visit friends.

'The time John is at the hospice is very important to me because it gives me the chance to recharge my batteries and gives me a feeling of freedom.'

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She added: 'Tapping House is a very joyful and happy place. Before he came here, we thought it was just for people ready to die but it's not like that – the patients here have such personality and a bit of character.'

Her husband used to be head gardener at the Park House hotel on the royal estate at Sandringham and is a former winner of the Sandringham Flower Show's King George VI Cup.

He said: 'I know my Parkinson's will get worse but I will keep battling and coming here helps me to keep battling.'

Fellow Dersingham resident Ann Rose is still being supported by The Norfolk Hospice despite the fact her husband now lives in a nursing home. Her husband has motor neurone disease and has been going to Tapping House for five years.

'I don't know what I would have done without the hospice,' she said. 'It was such a relief to be able to bring John here and I still have someone here that I can talk to and asked questions.

'John used to come once a week to start off with but as he got worse, he used to come twice a week.

'For me this meant I could catch up on jobs I hadn't done or go out for lunch with a friends.

'It got to the stage I used to look forward to these respite days because it was getting tough. It would have been dreadful and I don't know how I would have been able to carry on without the hospice because before I started coming here I had very little help.

'I had never come across motor neurone disease before but the staff here were and still are so easy to talk to and help me sort out any problems.

'I did think once he went into a nursing home my support would finish but that's not the case and I still come up here for a talk and have reflexology.'

Tricia Palmer, clinical team lead at The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House, has worked for the charity for seven years and has seen how supporting carers benefits both the carers and the patients.

She said: 'At the moment we offer strong carer support including things like respite sit ins at their home to give them a break and we also offer emotional support.

'The support addresses the carers' needs to be a person in their own right and give them time out of their role. The impact of not being able to cope is people losing their right to stay at home to die.

'It's also beneficial for the patients to have someone else care for them while their carer takes a little time out.' She added: 'At the end of the day the carers we see didn't apply for the job and there aren't many jobs where you are contracted to work 24/7, so it is important they get as much support as they need.'

On Monday the EDP focuses on the charity's volunteers and why they give up their time to support The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House

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