How we keep our nursing care going through UK flooding

by Dawn Tame-Battell Assistant Director, Patient Services Dawn Tame-Battell
Given that Marie Curie’s Nursing Service is all about our nurses caring for people with a terminal illness in their homes, anything that makes it hard for us to reach those homes is a potential problem.
So, like many others, we’ve been grappling with the challenge of severe floods over the last several weeks affecting large parts of southern England. The important thing for us is to make sure that, as far as possible, nurses can get to the people who need them. We have plans in place for serious disruptions like this to help us keep business as usual going and carry on delivering care to patients.

Safe journeys

Each day, our clinical nurse managers look at all the patients due to receive care and try to make sure Marie Curie Nurses could reach them safely. This involves liaising with local District Nurses, Marie Curie Nurses and patients and their families, and deploying nurses so that journeys are practical and they can avoid the worst flooding. Most of the time, we’ve been able to find alternative routes for nurses so they can avoid the worst hit areas. There have been a couple of shifts where we have not been able to get to patients, either due to flooding or trees blocking roads, but all families have been closely communicated with – and, where this has happened, it’s not for want of trying.

Unusual solutions

Because our nurses are based all over the UK, when some areas have been cut off for periods of time, we’ve been able to use nurses who live in the isolated area to patients there. There have been some unusual solutions – in one case where a local Marie Curie Healthcare Assistant required clinical input and district nurses were unable to reach the patient, a paramedic was sent through the floods in a tank to provide assistance. Police in Dorset also offered to help transport our staff through flooded roads if necessary, but we haven’t needed to take them up on the offer.

Ready for anything

It’s been a difficult time for everyone affected by the floods, but we have to make sure we’re ready for anything, because we know how much people depend on our nurses. It’s not unusual for us to have to invoke emergency plans in winter, most often because of heavy snow in the north of England and Scotland. As always in these situations, all our staff are working hard on behalf of people with a terminal illness and their families – from front-line nursing staff, who are making extra efforts to get to their patients, to their managers, who have been co-ordinating the service to deal with an ever-changing situation. How Marie Curie Nurses work How to get a Marie Curie Nurse