How our nurses and hospices try to make Christmas special for families

So far in 2014, our nurses have cared for 25,027 people with a terminal illness in their own homes, across the UK. 

But we don’t slow down towards the end of the year – Christmas is a busy time for us, as families understandably want to be together for the festive period. Over the 12 days of Christmas this year, around 1,500 of our nurses will be working, caring for more than 2,000 people at home, delivering nearly 37,000 hours of nursing care. We asked some of our nurses what it’s like caring for people over Christmas.

Reducing stress

Joan Rainey, Marie Curie Nurse in Belfast, said: “People usually like to be at home at Christmas with family and friends. But it can be a very stressful time and, if I'm there to help, I can take a big slice of that stress. If I'm there to help through the night, someone’s carer will know they'll get a proper sleep in the nights leading up to Christmas Day. They'll have the energy to buy presents and shopping, and prepare food for Christmas.”

Marie Curie nurse Michelle Carroll
Michelle Carroll

Making Christmas special for families

Michelle Carroll, Healthcare Assistant in Fife, said: “I’m usually very busy in the lead-up to Christmas. Families caring for a loved one who is terminally ill often want to make Christmas special, especially as it is can be their last together. “I do day shifts so it gives carers time to go out and get some shopping for Christmas which they couldn't do otherwise. They can take a bit of time to get a special present, decorations and food for Christmas dinner without being anxious and worrying how the person they are caring for is doing or dashing back to check on them. “Sometimes on my nursing shifts, I've helped put up the Christmas tree, decorate the house or wrap presents. There is a lot to do in a house where someone is terminally ill and Christmas can be stressful enough. It's a privilege to help make many Christmases more special, particularly when it can be the last for family to be together.”

Marie Curie nurse Lorraine Carey
Lorraine Carey

Christmas at our hospices

Christmas is also a special time for terminally ill people staying in our hospices. Lorraine Carey, Healthcare Assistant at the Marie Curie Hospice, Cardiff and the Vale, said: “At Christmas we decorate the hospice and prepare little gifts for all the patients. It might be their last Christmas so we want them to enjoy it as best they can. It's lovely to go round on Christmas Eve leaving them presents from Santa. They're surprised and quite thrilled to find something left for them.”

Thank you for your support

From everyone here at Marie Curie, we’d like to thank you for all your support this year. Without you, none of what we do would be possible.