“I felt as if my whole world had opened up. Thanks to St Giles’s support, my skills are truly valued.”
When her mum died back in 2003, Jane vowed that one day, if she could, she would try to give back an ounce of the love that the hospice had given to her mum in her final days.
This wasn’t the first time that St Giles had provided care for Jane’s family. Two years previously, after being diagnosed with a brain tumour, Jane’s dad also spent his last weeks at St Giles.
Fast forward a few years, and thanks to a reflexology course Jane had taken back in the 1990s, she has now fulfilled her promise.
She said: “I’d never heard of reflexology, but I was struggling with my health at the time and an alternative therapist suggested that I try it. When the therapist asked me about a medical condition I’d suffered with, I couldn’t believe how she could know about it just from touching my feet! I became a convert.”
After spending 30 years working in care, and seeing the benefits that reflexology brought to her care home residents, Jane wondered whether it might be something that she could offer to patients at St Giles.
She spoke to Amy, the Volunteer Manager at St Giles, and was put in touch with Julie Nicholas, Supportive Care Clinical Co-ordinator at St Giles, who invited her along to demonstrate her skills. Following further checks she was introduced to her first client, who attended an MS group at the hospice.
Jane said: “I was so nervous, I started to doubt myself and wondered whether I would be able to make a difference. But I thought: ‘Just be yourself Jane and do what you do’.
“At the end of the treatment the patient said to me: ‘I can move my foot. I haven’t been able to move my foot in about 10 years!’ And the rest, as they say, is history!”
Jane now gives her time to St Giles once a month to provide treatments for patients. “I go in early in the morning so that I can provide treatments to the staff who have just finished their shift and then I spend the day with patients, carers, family members, doctors, nurses… in fact anyone who thinks they will benefit,” she said, adding that after volunteering for just three months, “I felt as if my whole world had opened up, and now thanks to St Giles’s support, my skills are truly valued.”
Jane said she has learned, and continues to learn, so much from volunteering at St Giles. “I’ve been on all the education courses that St Giles offers to its volunteers. The knowledge I’ve gained is amazing and it means I’m able to offer so much more to the patients I look after.
“St Giles is such an amazing environment for people to learn in, as the nursing team there are not only absolute specialists, they are very special people too. I really feel like I’m one of the team.”
She added: “I never thought I could thank St Giles for what they did for my parents all those years ago, but now by doing my little bit I feel I am getting a little closer to being able to do that.”
If you’ve been inspired by Jane’s story and would like to know more about volunteering at St Giles, you can book onto a volunteer open session here. Plus, you can reach the team on 01543 434546 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.