Dame Barbara Monroe: drive to deliver better care to everyone

Dame Barbara Monroe DBE, Marie Curie Trustee

Dame Barbara Monroe DBE, who recently joined Marie Curie's Council of Trustees, has been a social worker for over 40 years. She joined St Christopher’s Hospice in 1987, becoming Chief Executive in 2000, and retired from this role last month.

Why did you want to become a trustee of Marie Curie?

After retiring from nearly 30 years at St Christopher's Hospice in London, I would like to continue using my skills and experience to contribute to both improving and extending the reach of end of life care. During that time I have worked on a number of Marie Curie committees; the charity's national reach through its care services, allied to a strong research and informatics endeavour, mean it is well placed to create significant impact.

What do you think the most important issues are today for people living with a terminal illness?

Demographic and social change mean that personal social care needs are increasingly important to quality of care. The confusion and inequity created by the failure to join up health and social care services is enormous. Carers' needs are often neglected and those with pre-existing disadvantages and vulnerabilities are often excluded from access to mainstream services. I am concerned that the pioneering emphasis on whole person care for ill individuals and those close to them, throughout illness and into bereavement, could get lost in an inevitably cash strapped environment.

What aspects of Marie Curie’s five-year strategic plan are you most passionate about?

At the heart of it all is the drive to deliver better care to everyone regardless of diagnosis and the challenge of ensuring that as many people as possible can die well supported in their own home or usual place of residence. I am enthusiastic about the emphasis on doing this in partnership with others as this will be essential to cost effectiveness. I hope to bring some useful professional experience to the focus on research and professional education. I have a lifelong interest in volunteering and in delivering effective support for bereaved people.

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