A day in the life of

13 July 2021

Name:Martyn Bijak
Job title:Palliative care community nurse
Area where you work:West Lothian

How long have you been a nurse/HCA/ other position?

Worked in the care sector for 15 years

How long have you been a Marie Curie nurse/HCA/ other position?

Worked for Marie Curie for 7 ½ years

Describe a typical day at work?

Ask any Nurse working anywhere and they will tell you they are not sure what their day will be like. We turn up for every shift and give our all and more to our patients and families. My role is primarily supporting patients and families in the community living with a terminal illness.

What’s the best part of the role for you? Tell us why.

The best part of my role is constantly being reminded of the honest, selfless, dignified and humble people that live in Scotland. I feel very honoured to help my community and get a lot of job satisfaction from the people I meet and work with.

What’s the hardest part of your role? Tell us why.

Saying goodbye to patients and families when someone is dying or died. Often we see someone for a short period, but the period is intense emotionally and bonds are created even within a single visit. When that person dies and my role is no longer needed- reflection on the person, their families and my input is always helpful to me to cope with this hard part of my role.

What has been the most challenging part of your role during the pandemic?

Wearing PPE at all times- not only is it uncomfortable but a key part in our role is communication. It’s been very challenging as a lot of our extremely difficult and sensitive conversation are done behind a mask. The non-verbal communication like facial expressions help when speaking to people and I feel the openness and warmth gets lost behind a visor, mask, apron and gloves.

How have you dealt with this challenge?

I have dealt with this by reminding myself of the nurses working in the acute sector especially in wards like ICU where full shift working in FFP3. I don’t have to work in those conditions and think myself lucky.

Why is the end of life care we provide so important? Every person will die but it’s important that people die with dignity and as comfortable as possible. It’s important because the people we leave behind take comfort for the rest of their lives if this is achieved. Often if this is not achieved then grief as difficult as it is, becomes harder and prolonged.

Why should people donate or fundraise for Marie Curie?

Every charity has its role and is worth giving to. No cause is any bigger or better than another. Marie Curie is a charity that helps and supports people living with a terminal illness. If this is important to you then feel free to donate as little or as much as you would like.

Tell us about a moment that has really stayed with you. Maybe it’s a memorable patient you cared for or a family you supported. Why did this moment resonate with you so much?

I looked after a patient recently who died at home. I’m a male nurse in my 30’s. The patient was the same age as my father and he had sons all around my age. I felt this could be my father, these lads could be my brothers. There was a quick bond made from the start and I was able to support the patient and his family to the end. Having similarities in family circumstances makes it easy to relate to but often is the hardest and it resonates more.

Marie Curie is a not for profit charity and heavily relies on donations to keep going. If you would like to donate (any amount helps), please visit our NW/A Just Giving Page . Thank you