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Greta's Story

Greta is 77 and lives on her own in Offley. She read an article in a local paper about the support we give patients who have heart failure, and thought it might be a way to help with her breathing problems. Initially anxious about getting in touch, she eventually called the Hawthorne Centre a few months before the pandemic started, and she’s delighted that she did.


Greta told us: “It took me a while to pluck up the courage to make the phone call but I did eventually. It’s not easy on your own but I’m very glad I’ve come. I used to use the bus a lot but I can’t get to the bus stop at the moment. Coming to the Hospice has made a huge difference. They’ve done amazing things for me and within a little while I was doing really well. They call me The Iron Lady.

“But then lockdown came. The Hawthorne Centre had to close and I went downhill. I’ve got to climb back up again now. I’ve been locked in at home since the start. My sons do my shopping, I have other family just around the corner, but I haven’t seen my brother or been to the shops for a year.

“I got to the stage where I didn’t want to leave the house, so it was lovely to get the phone call to say the Hawthorne Centre could re-open and would I like to come back. I come every Tuesday and I love it – they’re very good because they encourage me to do things which I don’t do on my own which is good for my confidence. Apart from going to the doctors, it’s the only time I ever go out and I look forward to coming. If I didn’t come to the Hawthorne Centre I wouldn’t go out at all.

“I’ve improved a lot since the centre re-opened. I look forward to coming and I want every day to be a Tuesday! I start with a lap around the garden to get me walking again and to get me motivated. Then I do a few little weights to help build up my muscles. I’m normally shut inside all the time so I like seeing all the flowers and being in the fresh air, but if it’s too wet or cold I use the treadmill instead.

“I’m gradually getting back to being The Iron Lady again! It’ll take a while but the team support me very well. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t come at all. I need encouragement and they really give me that. At the moment I get a lift to the Hospice but I’m planning on getting back on the bus when I’m strong enough, so I can get out and about when I want to. It’ll give me the freedom to do my own shopping.

“It’s hard when you’re on your own, but I’d say to anyone who’s thinking of coming to the Hawthorne Centre – make the phone call, don’t be frightened. They’re all so kind to you, they’re there for you and they want to see you, so don’t be afraid. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t come here. Even if it’s only once a week, it’s somewhere to go, a reason to get dressed in the morning. I love coming, it’s the only place I get spoilt!”

The team are really pleased with Greta’s progress in the last few weeks. Sarah Bradfield manages the Hawthorne Centre. She said:

“Greta comes to the Hawthorne Centre for advice on how to best manage her symptoms and for rehabilitation. The aim is for her to maintain as much strength, conditioning and function for as long as possible. When she came back to us, after staying at home through COVID, her strength and condition were much reduced and her confidence was at rock bottom. Having come to the gym for just a few weeks her function has significantly improved, as has her confidence to mobilise. This means she has a much better quality of life all round.”


Diane is a Rehabilitation Assistant who works with Greta, giving her the time and opportunity to practise her physical skills, talking to her in a motivational and confidence building way and providing her with social support. All of this then impacts on Greta’s overall wellbeing and means that her quality of life at home is better. Diane told us:

“It came to our attention that Greta had pretty much locked herself away since March last year and was too frightened to go out of her front door, so about two months ago we suggested that she try walking around the garden - she’s made huge improvements already, knocking about 5 minutes off her time!

“We spoke to Greta regularly on the phone when we were closed but there was a marked deterioration in her condition. She wants to get back to her bus stop – it’s her lifeline and our work with her here at the Hawthorne Centre will help her get there.”

Discover more about our Rehabilitation and Wellbeing services at The Hawthorne Centre.

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