27 August 2021
Name: Sheona Marsh
Job Title: Marie Curie community registered nurse and works on Rapid Response
Area where you work: London
‘I find the enjoyment in my job by being able to care for people and I just feel so privileged to be able to look after people at that stage of their lives and to be able to make it as positive an experience as possible'
'You don’t only get to know the patient, but also the family and there’s a lot of emotions and possibly issues going on in families and you’re mediating between them and trying to make those last days or hours for that person who’s dying as special as possible. You only get one chance at dying and it has to be done right.‘
‘I’ve worked for Marie Curie for 5 years now, working in the community as a registered nurse based in West London. I previously worked as a district nurse for about 20 years but always had a passion for palliative care. I continued with district nursing but wasn’t getting much input in the palliative side of things, so I decided to join Marie Curie, which was about four years after my dad passed away and I’ve not regretted making the move at all. It’s really lived up to my expectations, and I get a lot out of working in palliative care and looking after people at the end of their lives. In fact, I actually ended up leaving district nursing a couple of years ago to just focus on Marie Curie.’
‘For me palliative care consolidates what I’ve always believed nursing was all about and that’s true care in the real sense. Even just the simple things that matter to people when caring for them. Working for Mare Curie I have so much more time to give to people, and not just the patients but also their families too, which as a district nurse I just wasn’t able to do.’
‘There’s no typical shift, they can vary from day to day and I also work on Rapid Response too, so it’s like a Liquorice Allsorts box, you just don’t know what you’ll be facing. You can have a shift where you’re visiting all night and not have a minute to stop, and yet you’re still able to care for people properly, and what I mean by that is being able to give patients what they deserve.
‘There have been so many special people that have touched my heart, sometimes it’s when they are slightly younger, or they have a younger family and are finding it difficult to say goodbye. Also with some families not being able to accept that this is what’s been destined for their loved one. Caring is about having empathy, kindness and understanding. With COVID it’s been so difficult to really comfort people, because you can’t touch or hug people anymore, that’s really difficult with this job, you want to be able to do that, but I’ve found other ways and you have to adapt.’
‘Many people do stand out, and sometimes I’ve met the families locally, only the other day I was walking down by the canal and I met the wife of someone that I looked after and we talked and I couldn’t believe that it had been a year already. They were really special, and they sent me a lovely card and flowers. Certain people just touch your heart. Obviously, everyone is important, don’t get me wrong, as you don’t ever have a preference over another but there are just some circumstances that touch you. This particular family was very young, and it came very much out of the blue and happened very quickly, so there was little time to prepare. They were so appreciative of the help and being able to have their loved one at home until they passed, that’s sometimes what the person wants, and that’s their wish but very difficult if they don’t have the support element to enable that to happen, so they can cope, because it’s a very exhausting time.’
‘Initially, there were a lot more patients being sent home with a COVID diagnosis and I was very much involved in caring for them through Rapid Response. Working during the pandemic gave me a new perspective on nursing, I’ve been nursing for 25 years and I’ve never known nursing like this. What I did find really difficult when looking after COVID patients’ was we weren’t allowed to do ‘last orders’, and I always thought that was such a special thing to do when you care for someone throughout the night, just being able to give them a wash is such a personal thing to be able to do and for the family to have someone who has known their loved one to do that, I found that quite difficult, but people understood that we had to abide by rules and policies. Also wearing the face masks was also difficult and trying to communicate with people who might have hearing difficulties was really hard, yes, it’s been challenging.’
Enjoying my Job
‘I find the enjoyment in my job by being able to care for people. I just feel so privileged to be able to look after people at that stage of their lives and to be able to make it as positive an experience as possible. Just being able to provide tender loving care, when they are nearing the end of their lives. It’s the reason why I went into nursing in the first place, to be able to care for someone with emotion and love. And I always treat the people I care for as one of my own.’
‘Fundraising for Marie Curie is so important especially now given the year we’ve all had. It’s really essential that people continue to support charities like Marie Curie, we need as much help and support that we can get to keep this service going. I do believe we are a crucial service to anyone who is dealing with end of life. And the service we provide is of a very high standard and so really worth investing in. ‘
Marie Curie is a not for profit charity and heavily relies on donations to keep going. If you would like to donate (any amount helps), please visit our NW/A Just Giving Page . Thank you