"It’s such a privilege to be there for the patients"

Marie Curie Nurse Mairead has been part of the close-knit Belfast hospice team for over eight years, and has recently begun working in the Day Therapy unit. She supports her patients in all kinds of ways; from helping to manage treatment, to holding someone’s hand in their final moments.

"I’ve been at the Marie Curie Hospice, Belfast for most of my career. I spent most of my first seven years here on the inpatient ward, but for the last year I’ve been working in Day Therapy.

"On a typical day, we have a multidisciplinary team handover and then the patients arrive. It’s arranged as a clinic, so they are seen by the nurse, the doctor, physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist, social worker and complimentary therapist.

"We carry out patient education and organise talks with the patients, and support in every way we can. We might run a talk about pain, because the majority of the people we help have to manage the different types of pain relief they’re on.

"Everyone really enjoys it, and sometimes when we’re all talking together, the conversation can go off on a tangent. Recently we had a session where talked about death very openly. We spoke about funeral arrangements, who had talked with their family, and who didn’t feel comfortable doing so.

"Patients will often say how coming to Day Therapy is like a safety net for them. Managing all of these people looking after you, sorting appointments, and organising medications can get so confusing when you become sick. Being here pulls everything together; we can help patients manage their illness and plan for the future.

"The social side of Day Therapy at the hospice is hugely important for the patients, especially for those who don’t leave the house very often. They might be very unwell or have lost the confidence to be out walking, so being at Day Therapy might be the only time they get dressed up to go out each week.

"I love working here – it’s such a privilege to be there for the patients. They’ll introduce us to their families and tell us about themselves; many have had such interesting lives. It’s lovely just to get to know them and for them to let you in. And it’s a privilege to be there when someone is passing away; to be holding their hand when they take their last breath."

For Hospice Care Week, we’re celebrating every corner of our hospices and the people who make them so special. Find out more about our hospices and the vital work they carry out.