Pioneering Marie Curie Companion service to expand across Musgrove Park Hospital - 22 September 2014

Pioneering Marie Curie Companion service to expand across Musgrove Park Hospital - 22 September 2014

Marie Curie is calling for additional volunteers to help provide emotional and practical support to dying patients and their families at Musgrove Park Hospital.

The Marie Curie Companion volunteer service provides support to people in the last days or hours of their life, as well as help and guidance for their families and carers, enhancing the end of life care currently provided in the hospital.

More than 20 patients have been supported by the service since it began in three pilot wards in mid-July, with 13 specially trained volunteers now operating across 10 wards. However, more volunteers are needed to expand the service throughout the entire hospital. 

Director of Nursing and Governance, Carol Dight said: “We have already seen how much patients, their families and our staff value this service.  The response has been incredibly positive, but more volunteers are needed now to allow more people to benefit and to enable us to support our frail and elderly patients during the busy winter months. 

“Also, with the dark nights drawing in and temperatures dropping, we know it can be difficult for some families and friends to visit during the evenings. Having a supporting, friendly face who can sit with a patient will be a great comfort and make a real difference.”

Christine Guyon, from Welllington is one of the volunteers. She said: “It is a privilege to be part of someone’s life at the end of life. It’s not depressing.

“We always introduce ourselves to the patient, even if they are unconscious, and let them know I will keep them company.  If the family are not sure about something they have been told by medical staff, we can ask them to come in and explain it again. We can also signpost the family what to do when the patient has passed away.

“I definitely recommend it. It’s a very worthwhile thing to do if you are thinking about volunteering. Until you try it you won’t know how you feel about it.”

If you’d like to find out more about becoming a Companion, there is a drop-in session between 6.30pm and 8pm on Thursday, 25th September in the Boardroom at Musgrove Park Hospital (located in the Old Building). Alternatively you can contact Julia Bearne on 07730 751685 or email  No previous experience of volunteering is required.

All Marie Curie Companions are specially trained to enable them to provide patients at Musgrove nearing the end of their life with appropriate emotional and practical support. They also offer respite for patients’ families if they need to leave the patient and can signpost people to information and resources. Companions work on a rota, taking on a minimum of three-hour shifts per week. As well as patients with terminal illnesses, they also spend time with people who are dying as a result of acute conditions, complications and accidents.