“I was treated as a part of their family”
Pamela is a Marie Curie Senior Health Care Assistant who cares for her patients in their own homes – whether in a house full of beloved pets or the local pub. She spoke to us about the power of listening to the people she supports, and the moments of joy that creates.
"A lot of our work is listening and picking up on things. I remember a particular night when I was caring for an elderly gentleman whose daughter was very upset. Before she left us for the evening, she told me how day care service had not given her father a shave. He had always shaved every morning of his life, and so to his daughter he didn’t look like himself
"So after she left, I gave the gentleman a shave, and when she came back that morning she burst into tears! She just wanted her father to look how he always had; how he was supposed to. It was so long ago now but I remember that night, because some people stick in your head forever. That moment of happiness came just from listening – it’s nothing dramatic.
“That night we laid on her bed just talking”
"I cared for a woman once over two nights who loved animals – she had so many pets! The first night I was there she was with her partner, but the next evening I visited her they had split up.
"That night we laid on her bed just talking; about her animals, her feelings, and just about her before she eventually drifted off to sleep. It’s just about letting the patient relax, and sometimes open up if that’s what they want to do.
"It can be difficult sometimes, because you won’t always find out what happens to the families you care for, but luckily it’s not always like that. I recently received an amazing letter from a lady whose husband I cared for. It was very humbling to hear what the care meant to this lady, her husband, and their two teenage children.
“I poured my heart out and you poured the tea”
"Some of the lines this lady wrote really reflect the kind of experiences families like this go through when they’re facing the loss of a loved one, and she has very kindly given me permission to share her words:
I was beyond exhausted, having only slept for about two hours in the previous two days, terrified that when my husband needed me I would be asleep. You walked in and I remember breaking down in front of you. I poured my heart out and you poured the tea.
You helped my children laugh that night, you helped them spend time with their dad … Somehow your being there kept my husband with us until sunrise, until we could hear the sea and until I was with him, which was all we ever wanted.
"I think that says it all really!"
If you'd like to help our nurses continue caring for people living with terminal illness, please consider supporting our nurses with a donation. Just £20 pays for an hour of nursing care, helping people and families make the most of the time they have left.