Marie Curie: 'They were angels who gave one-to-one support'
Denis McKnight's wife Ena had motor neurone disease, but for a time was cared for at the Marie Curie Hospice in Belfast. Ena later died at home aged 68.
Until they were referred to Marie Curie, the couple from Hillsborough, Co Down, experienced problems getting the care they needed.
"Ena had been very ill for about nine months. I was constantly caring by myself. The only contact I had from the nursing side from the NHS was once a week. There was a physiotherapist calling once a month. There was a dietician and speech therapist also involved, but we saw them once a month, for half an hour. I found the district nursing staff from the health centre poor, really, really poor.
One nurse who called every week, I called her Flash Gordon. At three minutes past nine she came and at five minutes past she was gone. I found it extremely difficult to get out, to go shopping. The social worker said she could ask Marie Curie to do an assessment. Marie Curie asked for two case conferences to be held, no one had done that before. They wanted a plan of action.
They got everyone involved in her care together. Ena hadn't had her hair washed for a month because I wasn't able to get her in the bathroom.
Nurse Jane organised for her hair to be done. It lifted Ena's spirits enormously.
They were talking to me all the time, asking about my needs. They were angels.
The objective was to get Ena into the hospice and to get her completely stabilised, and then get her home again, which is what happened.
From a care point of view, anyone who goes into a Marie Curie hospice can be assured they'll be 100% looked after.
I feel sorry for those who don't receive the support we did. To me it seemed like the Marie Curie nurses were offering one-to-one support to the patients.