How Marie Curie responds quickly when people need help at Christmas

by Gillian Foreman
Clinical Lead Nurse for Rapid Response Teams across Durham and Darlington

Marie Curie Rapid Response Team

Christmas can be a particularly difficult time of year for families where someone has a terminal illness. We are there to offer urgent care and support, either to help a patient come home for Christmas,  or to care for a patient who is already at home.

We have Marie Curie Rapid Response Teams based at St Cuthbert’s Hospice in Durham and in partnership with St Theresa’s Hospice in Darlington. They offer vital care to terminally ill people and their families in Durham, Durham Dales, Darlington, Easington and Sedgefield every day of the year, including Christmas.

Our teams are on hand to offer care at short notice during the day, at night and over the weekend, when it can be more difficult to get assistance. They help with a range of nursing needs – overcoming breathing difficulties or pain, making patients comfortable or simply being a friendly face to turn to for families and carers.

Susan’s story

This time last year Susan Bates was caring for her mum, who had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer.

Susan says: “I took time off work and decided to move into Mam’s care home. The Marie Curie Rapid Response nurses were fantastic. If I was struggling or worried about Mam, I would call them and they would come straight away. They were brilliant with her, always happy and chatty. And they would come and give me a hug and offer to stay the night with Mam so that I could go home to sleep.

“I would say that Mam was helped to have a good death. The Marie Curie Nurses would come whenever she was uncomfortable and to change her syringe driver every night. They’d help me to wash and change her if the care home staff weren’t available and just be there, which was invaluable. Their help enabled Mam to stay in the nursing home, where she was in familiar surroundings. She had the best bedroom in the nursing home, it was fabulous. She had family photos everywhere, scented candles every night and we put the Christmas decorations up early.

“I cannot thank those girls enough for all they did for us both.”

Hear Susan talk about her experience with the Rapid Response team on the BBC Radio Tees Breakfast Show on 18 December. The clips starts at 1:25:00.

As the countdown to the festive season continues, we are sharing with you the many things that make up a #MarieCurieChristmas and would love for you to share your #MarieCurieChristmas stories with us on Twitter and Facebook.