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Donna and Fiona's story

Donna Boyd, 21 from North Tyneside, has been using St Oswald’s short break service for 8 years. Donna has a neuromuscular condition and epilepsy, which means she needs 24/7 care

We spoke to her mum, Fiona, who tells us a bit more about Donna and how they both benefit from the support of St Oswald’s. She said:

“Donna is a 21 year old fun, happy girl. She requires 24/7 care as she has severe epilepsy and severe respiratory needs, which means she needs to be suctioned. Even during the night, she has to be turned and suctioned so the only time I can properly rest is the three nights Donna stays at the Hospice.

“The Hospice isn’t what people would expect, it’s a very, very happy place.  Donna screeches and laughs when she comes through the door. She has everybody on their toes and she has the chance to get involved with lots of lovely fun activities.

“She bakes and has Jacuzzi baths and that kind of thing.  At home, she only has a shower so to go to the Hospice and get pampered, have massages, and have her nails painted - she gets a lot of attention and has a great time. She especially loves having her toes painted lots of different colours.

“The staff at the Hospice are fantastic, I couldn’t ask for anymore. They’re not just nurses and care assistants they’re people that care and who really understand our kids and understand that they’re here to have fun and have a nice time. At the same time their main concern is with their care and welfare. Often we’re here after Donna’s been to hospital and she’s quite poorly and they’re the perfect support in that situation.”

Talking about the support that Fiona receives as a parent, she continued:

I’m a single parent, and I’m on my own; all my family are up in Scotland and I don’t have friends who could look after Donna medically so the Hospice is absolutely everything to me. It’s the one thing, over the past 8 years that I’ve always been able to rely on when Donna has been deteriorating. Staff at the Hospice are always on hand to talk, they’ve become like family to me and it’s not just Donna that we talk about. I just couldn’t cope without St Oswald’s.

 “The Hospice offers me time to have a break, get some sleep and recharge my batteries whilst knowing that Donna is safe and comfortable. She loves being at the Hospice but for me it’s more than that, it’s about the support we receive. When we walk through the door and the first thing you get is a hug and a coffee. I also take part in the parent group which focuses on wellbeing, managing breathing and how to cope with stressful situations.”