Our nurses help families celebrate Christmas together

By Lorna Clarkson
Lorna is a Marie Curie Nurse who provides care for people in their own homes across rural North Yorkshire.

Marie Curie Nurse Lorna Clarkson at a Christmas Carols evening

Many nurses and health care professionals will be working over the Christmas holidays and Marie Curie Nurses are no different. In fact Christmas is busier than any other time of year for us.

I have been a Marie Curie Nurse for 13 years, providing overnight care to people in their own homes across rural North Yorkshire. I have worked most Christmases and feel it’s a particular privilege to care for patients and their loved ones at this time of year.

It can be a very difficult time of year as patients and families struggle to come to terms with terminal illness and death, when there are so many other pressures and expectations of a “Merry Christmas”. Despite this, I find that there is a lot of laughter mixed with sadness in the homes I visit, as many want their last Christmas to be a memorable and happy one.

As Marie Curie Nurses we do everything we can to help people achieve this. It’s about fitting in with the plans that the family have in place, both as carers of the patient and for their festive celebrations. This can be helping the patient to conserve energy, and advising the family about how to support the patient to do this, to looking after the patient’s symptoms and managing their pain so they can get through the big day comfortably.

Some Christmases ago I cared for a young mum with two little children. Being with her all night meant I was able to assess her symptoms and work with the district nurse and doctor to improve her nausea and pain. This not only improved her quality of life but meant the children could have cuddles with their mummy on Christmas morning when they woke up.

I worked Christmas Eve and Christmas night with the family, allowing them to sleep and recharge their batteries. My patient was carried down the stairs on Christmas Day and was able to take part in sharing the gifts and special meal that she had planned so meticulously for weeks. Those memories stay with you your whole career.

Every Marie Curie Nurse will have very special moments that they have been a part of at Christmas time. One of my colleagues looked after a young man last Christmas. His wife was expecting their first child at the time and the couple had planned a home birth so that they could share the special arrival. My colleague was there throughout to make sure the young man was comfortable enough, with his symptoms and pain under control to enjoy the birth of their child. That sums it up for me. As Marie Curie Nurses it is very satisfying to be able to deliver the level and quality of specialist individual care that we were all trained to provide at such a pivotal moment in a person’s life.

I want to pay tribute to all the Marie Curie Nurses across the UK who will be doing a wonderful job this Christmas both in people’s homes and our nine hospices. Spending time away from their own loved ones to help more people achieve their wish of being able to spend their last Christmas where they want to be.