Our funding in action

Last month, George Plumptre, CEO of the National Garden Scheme, visited the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead. As well as enjoying a tour of the beautiful garden, the visit was a great opportunity to see the National Garden Scheme’s funding in action. Read more to find out about his afternoon in this incredible hospice.

My visit started with a tour of the hospice garden, led by volunteer gardener, Tom. Tom explained what a vital role the garden plays for patients and their families and we discussed the great day which is approaching when the garden is open in aid of the National Garden Scheme, on 24th June

We have enjoyed a wonderful partnership with Marie Curie ever since the charity became a beneficiary of the National Garden Scheme in 1996. In the intervening years we have given them over £8.8 million.

Marie Curie has a very special philosophy and approach to end-of-life nursing which shines out from every Marie Curie nurse and so it has been really exciting to establish the National Garden Scheme Bursary Fund as part of our annual donation. The scheme offers bursaries to Marie Curie nurses to gain specialist qualifications that will help further their careers.

The first intake are just completing their courses and the other day I spent time with two of them, Scarlett Nash and Claire Collins at the Marie Curie Hampstead Hospice where they both work. I have visited a number of hospices and have never failed to notice the atmosphere of informal and personal friendliness, so different from a hospital, but Hampstead, with its modern efficiency, really explodes the myth of hospices as places of hushed, sombre sadness. There’s a gym and a hydro pool for goodness sake and I heard mention of a drinks trolley.

Like many hospices, day care is as important at Hampstead as care for residents and I met Scarlett in the Day Therapy Unit where she is based. Her bursary course has focused on equipping her for the assessments she has to make daily, many of which are both challenging and demanding and she explained what a huge difference it has made, not only to her own skills and confidence but in her ability to pass on the knowledge to her colleagues. She did confess that it was the most demanding academic work she had ever attempted but clearly relished the challenge and more than once emphasised the difference the increased knowledge and confidence would make to her work.

Then I met Claire whose bursary course has been to develop her work as a bereavement councillor and I was lucky enough to join in a conversation with Claire and one of her patients. It was immediately clear from the conversation that Claire’s advice and support had changed the patient’s life and it was heart-warming to hear first-hand about the remarkable difference she had made.

It’s fantastic that we have been able to set up a bursary scheme that so clearly chimes with the needs of Marie Curie nurses and more funds have been allocated for 2018. I look forward to meeting and shadowing more of the nurses – and I also look forward to trying to get to the Marie Curie hospice open day on 24th June.

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