"It’s an amazing thing to be able to do for a family"

Marie Curie Nurse Paula Grufferty is a dedicated member of the rapid response team. She tells us how passionate she is about the people she looks after, and why she loves her job.

Marie Curie Nurse Paula greets a family member at a patient's house.

It’s so important for families to know there’s going to be someone there to look after their loved one at the end of their life, and to support them emotionally too.

People will often want to talk about themselves and tell you their story. Our work is all about respecting people, and treating them with dignity.

A special relationship

I’ll often visit the same patient and family several times, and you quickly get to know them.

It makes a difference when you can make those connections with people and build up a special bond and relationship.

I remember an elderly lady who I was looking after at home. Her daughter was sitting beside her with the lady’s beloved dog on her knee.

The dog sat there the whole time, just wanting to be close to his owner.

For me, that was absolutely lovely, because it’s all about keeping the patient feeling that everything’s as normal and familiar as can be.

We’ll be there within the hour

I’m a member of the rapid response team  working across County Durham, and we operate 24 hours a day.

We respond to calls at any time of the day or night and aim to arrive within one hour. We offer care in people’s homes, but we can also provide care in nursing homes.

Whether people need emotional support, symptom or pain control, or support because a patient has passed away at home, we can help.

We’re also there if someone wants to come home from hospital and the families are asking themselves: ‘How are we going to manage?’ We’re there to answer that question.

An amazing thing to be able to do for a family

Marie Curie is about support for the family too; a lot of people haven’t experienced a loved one dying at home.

They don’t always know what to expect when they give us a call, especially because we’re a relatively new service.

They’ll obviously want everything to be so right for their loved one. It’s an amazing thing to be able to do for a family – I love it.

Ready to get started: Marie Curie Nurse Paula

How I became a Marie Curie Nurse

I originally worked as a support worker for the NHS for 21 years, before coming to work for Marie Curie.

I supported people with learning disabilities, and those with dementia. I’d be caring for the same people for many years, and some eventually needed end of life care.

This gave me an insight into the kind of support Marie Curie provides, and from there I became interested in working in that particular field.

When I’m out and about in my uniform, people sometimes come up to me and say: “My family’s being cared for by one of your nurses.”

Our team is very diverse, and of course not every nurse works in the same way.

We’re all very experienced and all of different ages. We are constantly learning from each other, and discovering different approaches.

And we do have a laugh! It’s definitely not all doom and gloom.

Why I love my job

I love my job, and I’m passionate about making sure patients have that choice.

With my job I meet so many different types of families – old, young, from all different walks of life. Meeting someone at the door, and offering that support and care doesn’t change no matter who it is.

We hear things like “I couldn’t manage without you” and “Thank you so much”. You get to see the relief of families and patients when they know you’re there for them.

How you can help

If you're interested in supporting Marie Curie to provide care and support through terminal illness, there are lots of ways you can take part.

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