"I can't think of a better place for me to be cared for."

Dean Raby, who has multiple sclerosis (MS), was initially admitted to Manorlands Hospice for palliative care because he looked to be approaching the end of his life; however, thanks to the ongoing care he has received from Manorlands, he has not only recovered from this setback but experienced improvement in his MS symptoms – and a lift in his confidence.

Before I was referred to Sue Ryder, I was admitted to hospital with pneumonia on two occasions. During these admissions, I had periods of confusion that were severe and unexplained, and it was arranged for me to be admitted to Manorlands Hospice to investigate why this was happening.

I had only been there a day or two when I became unconscious and close to death. Staff could not do anything. Relatives were informed and all medication stopped.

However, I fought for life and, despite terrible pain and an inability to speak or eat at first, I gradually improved so that, five and a half weeks later, I was discharged home.

"When I arrived, I couldn't swallow or eat anything"

During those weeks, I was impressed with the care I received at Manorlands Hospice. I couldn't think of a better place for me to be cared for. The level and the quality of the care I received there were absolutely extraordinary.

Before being admitted to the hospice, I felt like I was going downhill for a long time. When I came in, I couldn’t swallow or eat anything.

One of the first things the team did was look at my diet and change it to help me begin to eat again. At the beginning, it was all about liquidising food, but I remember one day, when I was already getting better and stronger, I really fancied a curry. My carer asked the nurses if she could take in some tins of curry, but staff said they would cook one from fresh for me.

Initially I was so weak that I was eating all my meals in bed; I feared I would never eat at a table again. But as I was getting better, one day I asked if I could eat in the dining room at the hospice with staff and patients of the day therapy service. They quickly set a place for me and it was lovely to be able to eat sitting properly at a table.

Personalised care that benefitted his MS

I felt they really looked after me as an individual, not just another patient. I have lots of memories of little gestures that made such a difference to help me get better, stronger and more confident again.

One sunny day, for instance, I was going around the grounds of the hospice and the gardener came with a brolly so I could have some shade. I'm not good with heat so they also moved my bed to ensure I was always in the shade. They even allowed my pet dog to come in and sit on my bed!

I can now do things that I couldn't do before going into Manorlands Hospice, such as using a cup, knife and fork, reading a book, and going to the gym. My carer, who has looked after me brilliantly for the past 15 years, says that I am better now than when she first knew me. Now, I'm able to manoeuvre my wheelchair, feed myself and my speech has improved.

While I was at the hospice, I had access to a team of expert doctors, nurses, specialists, carer assistants, a speech therapist and physiotherapists. They all made time to talk to me and when there was something important to discuss they always involved my family and my carer. I was always involved in my care and they made sure I understood everything.

When I first arrived, I was on so many medications - I don’t even remember how many, maybe about 20! - but now I'm just on a few and feel much better.

Ongoing therapies to ease his symptoms

And the care didn’t stop when I was discharged. The occupational therapists and physiotherapist from the hospice came home with me to ensure I had everything I needed to be as independent as possible.

And now I visit the hospice to receive complementary therapies. I find it really beneficial: it helps me relax and recharge my batteries.

I've regained confidence, and feel much more willing to see friends and go out. By talking with some friends, I realised that before coming to Manorlands Hospice I wasn’t really joining in; it was like I was in a shell.

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