Hospice nurse says her job is “a real privilege” despite tough moments

Carolyn, a nurse at the Marie Curie Hospice outpatients department in Bolton, doesn’t want people to be afraid of death

With peaceful gardens and comfortable rooms, a hospice is nothing to be afraid of (stock image)

Hospice care is so important in making sure someone’s final moments are comfortable and peaceful, which is why working in a hospice is often seen as challenging, yet very rewarding.

Marie Curie is one of the UK’s leading end of life charities who provide nursing and hospice care and tons of support in all aspects of bereavement.

Their services involve treating or managing pain as well as providing emotional support when individuals and their families need it the most.

We spoke to Carolyn, who works in the outpatients department at the Marie Curie Hospice in Bolton to find out more about what it’s really like to work in a hospice.

She said: “When people are first referred, they are always quite afraid. Hospices are considered a dark scary place where you go and die, but it isn’t.

“It’s a bright and airy place, and although at the moment it’s quite quiet due to Covid, it’s usually a buzzing happy place with a lot of fun and laughter.

“Of course it can be sad, but it’s all about people making the most of their life.”

The hospice is surrounded by peaceful gardens overlooking Bradford, with the inside offering plenty of useful facilities including consulting rooms and therapy rooms.

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Carolyn continued: “From the outside it looks quite small, patients can see the mills of Bradford and Bradford City ground which is great for those who grew up and spent their whole lives in Bradford.

“There’s a large conservatory area with bifold doors that open onto the gardens, a lounge area, a kitchen, a complementary therapy room, consulting room and counselling rooms.

“In the inpatient unit there are usually 16 beds, mostly single sized rooms as well as en suite bathrooms and upstairs there are offices, conference rooms and even guest bedrooms.”

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Despite the buzz and positivity throughout the hospice, Carolyn admits that the Covid-19 pandemic did take its toll and there have been some tough moments to deal with.

She said: “It’s been tough for everybody during Covid, it’s not the same over the phone or via teams, it’s been so sad because most people are in their last year of life.

“We’ve had no visitors at all during Covid, so people have died on their own, and that’s so sad.”

With difficult moments comes good peer support and a focus on wellbeing.

“Everybody has difficult days working in a hospice, but there is plenty of support in place to make sure we are coping okay.”

When it comes to her favourite thing about working in a hospice, Carolyn said: “For me, the biggest thing is that it’s a real privilege to look after people and families at that stage of their life.

“You really can make a difference, the families will always remember you as well.

“Over the years I’ve gotten to know some fantastic people and fantastic families that I’ll honestly never forget.”

The Marie Curie Information and Support online chat service can help with information about all aspects of end of life or grieving, whether you have practical, emotional or financial questions or concerns, or if you just want someone to talk to. For more information, visit

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