ellenor Wellbeing Patient Finds Unexpected Comfort In Hospice Bath

A chance remark made by Pat Reedman, a patient under ellenor’s Wellbeing services, landed her  in hot soapy water  - quite literally! She happened to mention she hadn’t had a bath in 12 years and before she knew it, she was being offered a soak in the hospice’s bathtub in Northfleet.


The Dartford resident, who has been coming to ellenor as an outpatient since 2018, had only been able to take a shower since moving into sheltered accommodation in the town. She suffers from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) so finds it very challenging to walk very far or exert herself. Just taking a few steps can leave her fighting for breath.


She said: “I didn’t realise how much I would miss having a bath until I no longer had one. When I told my friends at ellenor’s Green Shoots gardening group that I hadn’t had a bath for 12 years everyone laughed and moved away. We were making lavender bags at the time, to hang in our wardrobes or add to our bath water.When I got home later, I had a phone call from Terri, who is a family support worker at ellenor. She was asking if I would like a bath at the hospice and of course I said yes!”


Hospice staff helped to hoist Pat into the warm water and then she was left to her own devices with her favourite bubble bath and a Green Shoots lavender sachet.


She said: “I decided not to have the jacuzzi bubbles, but the bath has coloured lights which were so pretty when they were dimmed. The staff were lovely and kept a towel over me while they were lifting me in and out to protect my dignity. I was in there for a good 20 minutes and I enjoyed every minute of it. The lavender bag we made was very nice too – you could really smell it.”


Pat was referred to ellenor by a warden at the sheltered housing scheme where she lives. She comes into The Manor Hotel in Gravesend every Wednesday, transported by ellenor’s volunteer drivers. The charity’s Wellbeing team has moved to the hotel while a state-of-the-art new Wellbeing and Therapeutic Wing is built as part of a major revamp at the hospice in Northfleet.


ellenor prides itself on offering holistic care to its patients and their families, with a strong emphasis on wellbeing. The charity offers a variety of groups to patients and their families, and the bereaved, and many of them are also open to members of the local community. These groups include seated exercise, music and gardening. The Wellbeing team also provide counselling services and therapies including reiki and aromatherapy massage.


Pat said: “When I come in on a Wednesday we do music in the morning and often have some really good singers and musicians coming in. I can’t sing myself anymore because of my COPD but I like listening. I just enjoy the company and the activities -- this is my release and respite. I’m not embarrassed around these people. If one of us has had a bad week we will talk about it. We always make sure everyone is all right; I’ve made a lot of friends here, and some of them I would now consider to be really good friends".


“We all have some sort of life-limiting illness and can relate to each other. We sometimes understand each other more than members of our own families do. The staff are so lovely too; I really feel I can talk to them.If I didn’t come here, I would be housebound because my husband Noel hasn’t been driving for the past few years and is not one for going out much anyway.”


When Pat was first referred to ellenor, a nurse visited her in her own home. They were able to help adjust her medication, and since then her condition has been fairly stable. Lately Pat has also benefitted from reflexology sessions offered by the therapists at ellenor.


Suffering from such a debilitating illness is very frustrating for the previously active mother and grandmother, who worked for 20 years at Burroughs and Wellcome in Dartford, now Glaxo Smith Klein.


She said: “I was diagnosed with COPD quite a few years ago now and it has gradually got worse. It’s hard when I think of what I used to be able to do. I worked all my life in a factory and now I can’t really do anything. I can’t do what I like to do, and I can’t walk very far. At home Noel does the housework and the cooking, and a community nurse comes in once a month to check my blood pressure and oxygen levels. She sent me to hospital recently because my blood pressure and heart rate were so high. I’m usually OK with my inhaler but sometimes I have to go on a nebuliser.”


Pat has three children, Mark, Darren and Debbie, seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren. She has lived in Dartford for most of her life, moving to Canterbury for 10 years but returning to her roots when her granddaughter started a family.


She has always been aware of ellenor and its tireless work in her local community as well as at the hospice in Northfleet.


She said: “I’m looking forward to the new Wellbeing centre opening. I miss going into the hospice building and I do miss the delicious meals they cook there. I’m definitely looking forward to the food!”