A night in the life of Nurse Annie

Marie Curie Nurse Annie takes us through a typical night shift, caring for someone with a terminal illness in their own home, and supporting their family.

8.45pm – getting ready and having dinner

A Marie Curie Nurse uniform laid out on a bed
Uniform washed, ironed and ready to go!

As I’m getting ready for a shift I’ll be thinking about who the family members are, how they’re feeling and how the patient is doing. 

A plate of supper
Dinner for most people is breakfast for me when I’m working

9pm - calling the family

Before I leave, I do my 9pm call to let the family know I’m coming. It’s nice to have a little chat and break the ice and find out how they’re doing before I arrive. If I’m looking after a new patient, I’ll be thinking about planning the route to the house.

9.30pm - travelling

Annie in the car, about to leave her house
In the car about to leave

I always plan the route to my patient’s house if it’s my first visit. When it’s dark in the winter, it can be hard to see the house numbers so it’s good to be prepared!

10pm – arriving at my patient’s house

Nurse Annie about to knock on her patient's door
Just about to knock on the door!

When I get to my patient’s house I park up, knock on the door and introduce myself. We’ll go into the hallway and I’ll ask how the patient is doing. One lady burst our crying when she opened the door. She’d been waiting for support for quite a while so it was just such a relief.

I get to know a lot of my patients and their families over time, so it’s like home from home. They make you feel welcome and you know where everything is.

10.15pm – chatting with the family

A family photo album on a bed
It’s always interesting to learn a little bit about my patient’s lives

Some people are that tired and upset they just want to get away and have a rest. But there are a few who want to have a chat about the patient. Sometimes we’ll chat about their children and grandchildren. One lady whose mum I was caring for got out all her albums of her siblings and children, pointing out who everyone was, which was nice.

12pm – caring for my patient

A selfie of Nurse Annie during a night shift
Caring for my patient during the night

Sometimes people want to watch telly with you. One gentleman I visited would always tell his daughter ‘Annie’s coming, get some films in!’ He used to really look forward to that. We’ll have a cup of tea and some biscuits and we’ll have a chat. Some patients are on a lot of medication though so they’re asleep and it’s quite quiet.

Patient’s families always say call me if you need me. I try not to wake them up if it’s something I can manage, unless they insist they want to be woken. The whole point I’m there is to give the carer a break.

2am – the middle of my shift

a mantle clock showing 2am
My patient will usually be asleep by this time

2.05am – coffee and a biscuit!

Nurse Annie enjoying a cup of coffee and a chocolate biscuit
I usually make a cup of coffee at around 2am

3am – doing my paperwork 

A cup of tea, forms and pen on a table top
Doing my paperwork

While my patient’s asleep and if they don’t need me, I’ll usually have a cup of coffee and do some paperwork.

7am – morning and the end of my shift

Nurse Annie making a hot drink for a family
Making a tea for a family member

I’ll make a hot drink for my patient’s carer. They often say they feel so much better when they come down in the morning. When I leave I try to get them an extra night of nursing if I think they need it. I don’t want to go and just leave them.”

7.30am - home time

Nurse Annie in the car about to leave a patient's home
Back in the car to go home

8am - breakfast

A plate of bacon and eggs
My breakfast

When my shift ends, I have some breakfast, take my son to school and go for a run or a swim before going to bed.

10.30am - time for bed

Nurse Annie setting an alarm before bed
Setting my alarm for another day caring for people with a terminal illness

I’m really proud of my job. It changes peoples’ lives. Everyone I’ve spoken to say I don’t know what I would have done without my Marie Curie Nurse. We do make a major difference.

Donate today to make sure nurses like Annie can be on shift to support poeple living with a terminal illness and their families.