People usually find their inner strength at difficult times

Marie Curie’s pioneering rapid response nursing service in Lincolnshire has celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Karen Playford, Senior Healthcare Assistant, has been part of the team right from the start. She tells us why she enjoys her role, and what she’s learned over the last decade.

Karen Playford
Karen's been with Marie Curie since 2006, when the rapid response service first launched.

Urgent support is vital to help people to stay at home

“Our nursing team provides care at short notice to help people living with a terminal illness when they need us. As a rapid response service, we have to get to people’s homes as quickly as we can  and that’s usually within an hour of their call.

"Each visit is different. Sometimes we help people to relieve their symptoms such as pain, breathing difficulties or nausea. Sometimes we see to people’s personal care needs. And at times, we’re there for the whole family as they may have questions or concerns that they want to discuss with us.

"Quite often, we find ourselves dealing with crisis situations that may have otherwise been referred to the A&E team. We’ll always try our best to manage the situation with what we’ve got by thinking on our feet and doing what we can to help people stay at home. I’ve learned that you can avoid going into hospital if you have all the right support in your home. You could say that we provide an alternative to dialling 999.”

At times, just a chat on the phone can help  

“A lot of what we offer is emotional and psychological support. We always have the time to listen and chat about people’s needs and worries, and they can just pick up the phone to talk to us.

"And that’s all people might need to get through a difficult patch in the middle of the night – a bit of reassurance to know they’re doing the right thing, or practical advice from one of our nurses with lots of experience.”

People usually have a great reserve of inner strength

“One of the many things my role has taught me is how strong people are – how they always find ways to deal with their situation.

"It still amazes me how people who don’t have much experience of caring for someone else can usually find the strength and energy to cope and look after their loved ones, even at very difficult times.”

Rapid response nurses
Marie Curie Nurses Debbie and Wendy are always ready to respond to urgent calls from their nursing base in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

Care should be available when and where it's needed

“We’ve found out how important it is for people to have access to timely support during an emergency, especially outside of regular working hours or on a bank holiday, when other support many not be readily available. Over the last 10 years, we’ve enhanced our service by offering 24-hour support over the weekends and on bank holidays, as we know it makes such a difference to families across Lincolnshire.

"Whenever we’re in someone’s home, we’re there for as long as we need to be to help as much as we can. We never feel that we’re in a hurry to get to our next visit so we have the time to make sure everything’s fine before we go.

"That’s the fantastic part of my job – being there for people so they can spend those precious moments towards the end with their family and friends, in the comfort of their homes and at a time when it matters most.”

Today, Marie Curie has similar rapid response nursing services in other parts of the UK, including: County Durham, Grampian, London, North Lancashire, Northern Ireland and Wales. Read more about what Marie Curie Nurses do and how they help.