Sex and the City and a strong cup of tea

Marie Curie Nurse, Lynne, helps her patients feel cared for and comfortable at the end of their lives, whatever they want to do – including following the adventures of Carrie Bradshaw and friends in New York. 

“I’ll always remember I had one patient who liked to stay up and watch TV, rather than go to sleep. I remember she said, ‘I’m not long for this world, Lynne. I’ve only got a short time left, so I’m going to watch all the programmes I’ve never watched.’

Lynne thinks giving people the chance to keep trying new things at the end of their lives is really important.

Discovering new small screen delights

“My patient had been watching a lot of CSI, and I suggested something a bit lighter. I asked her if there were ever any programmes she wanted to watch and never did because her son or husband wasn’t interested.

“She said her sister had suggested Sex and the City – which happens to be my all-time favourite programme. We watched the first episode and she said, ‘Oh my God, why did somebody not tell me about this programme years ago?’

“I have the box set at home, so I brought it with me next time I visited her, and we watched them together, back to back. Once she dropped off to sleep, I used to tuck her into her armchair, turn the TV off and look after her. If she woke up in the night, she used to always have hot, strong tea and a cigarette.

“I’ll remember her because we got on so well – we both laughed at the same things.”

Caring for patients through the night

“I like that, as a Marie Curie Nurse, you’re given a patient and you can work for nine hours, one-to-one with that patient. I don't mind being a lone worker, because you’re the only one responsible for your work. You go in with the attitude that you’re going to do the best possible job that you can, in the circumstances.

“What you get is what you see with me. I'm not a particularly pretentious person. But as a Marie Curie Nurse, you have to be able to listen first and foremost. I can talk to for England, but you learn an awful lot more by listening than you ever do by talking. That is one of the key things – you let people open up, you let people talk to you.

“I try to get my patients chatting, or talk with the family and find out what their interests are, what they used to do as job, that kind of thing. Then if they do want to chat, you can get things going by asking about their lives.

“Once people open up to you, they normally tell you things that maybe they don’t feel they can tell their family. That’s quite nice for them because then they feel that they’ve unburdened themselves.

Being able to die at home

“I think you should be able to have the end that you want. You shouldn’t have somebody saying, ‘Well, actually tough, you should be tucked up in your bed with your feet up’. If someone said that to me, I think I might give them a rather rude answer actually.

“At home or in a hospice, you can have your family and friends dropping in when they want. Hospices are good because it doesn't always suit everybody to care for their loved ones at home, because they worry that they’re not doing it right and they give themselves unnecessary stress.

“I think it’s so important that everybody gets the death that they want. I know that sounds a bit gushing, but it’s true.”

Leaving a gift in your Will to Marie Curie means nurses like Lynne are able to give nine hours of continuous care to patients in their own home, and support families at the same time. Order your free information booklet about leaving a gift in your Will or speak to your local legacy advisor.