MARIE Curie is providing a round the clock rapid response service for families in the region affected by terminal illness this festive season.

The teams are based at St Cuthbert’s Hospice in Durham and St Teresa’s Hospice in Darlington and are available to help families in Durham, the Durham Dales, Darlington, Easington and Sedgefield throughout the whole festive period.

The service offers a range of nursing needs from helping patients overcome breathing difficulties or pain management, to making patients comfortable, or just being a friendly face or voice to turn to for families and carers.

Gillian Foreman, who manages Marie Curie’s rapid response service in Durham and Darlington, said: “We’re on hand right throughout the festive season, to offer care at short notice during the day, at night and over the weekend, when it can be more difficult to get help.

“We know that Christmas can be a particularly difficult time of year for families where someone has a terminal illness.

“We are there to offer urgent care and support, either to help a patient come home for Christmas, or offer care to a patient who is already at home.

“For example, if a patient wants to be discharged from hospital, we can often have a nurse there waiting to meet the ambulance at their homes and provide them the medical assistance they need.

“Or we will provide the care a patient and their family needs, so that they can hold their Christmas celebrations early at home, if a patient is particularly ill.”

Mrs Foreman added that in many cases just one phone call to Marie Curie nurses can be the difference between a poorly person being able to stay at home rather than having to go into hospital.

Senior nurse Natalie Foster said: “Providing the rapid response service over the winter months can be a real challenge particularly getting up into the Dales when the weather is bad.

“However, we’ve never had a situation yet, where we haven’t been able to get to a patient who needs us.”

If you or someone you care for is over 18 has a terminal illness and lives in Darlington or Durham you, their GP or district nurse, can contact Marie Curie 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 07515-135-357.