Night Nurse Deirdre Power has a great understanding of what families are going through when a loved one is receiving palliative care. Deirdre, who is originally from Cork and is now based in Dublin, went through a similar experience when her mother passed away in 2018.
“My mother Margaret had ovarian cancer and was she very brave. Thankfully I was able to go up and down to her in Cork for all her treatments and we had that special time together,” says Deirdre.
“When her time came, she was talking about going into the hospice as she didn’t want to cause us any trouble. We were really lucky and gifted in that my mom was able to pass away at home and myself and my daughter Hannah were able to look after her along with the rest of my family and the hospice team.”
The family considered getting a Night Nurse but circumstances meant they did not have to avail of the service as Deirdre’s mother passed away during the day. “We were really thankful that my mother was able to die at home,” Deirdre says.
Almost two years ago, Deirdre was working in a Dublin Community Unit when she heard that Night Nurses were being sought, and she applied for the role.
“It was during the pandemic so it was a Zoom interview – my first interview in 28 years – so that was quite nerve-wracking,” she recalls. Deirdre subsequently began as a Night Nurse, combining this role with her other nursing position.
“I absolutely love the job and I just think it’s so important,” she says. “A lot of things in life are about celebratory things, like a birth, but dying is such a huge part of people’s lives. I know with my own mother that to give someone the privilege of dying at home is amazing. I love supporting the families and hope I help in making the patient more comfortable.”
Families, she notes, appear to be relieved to see their Night Nurse arrive. “Most relatives go to bed and have a sleep because it’s usually the last week when I come to their homes,” she says. “It’s a very hard week, and they’re facing into a funeral and some really difficult times themselves.”
It also seems fitting that Deirdre should join the Irish Cancer Society’s Night Nursing Service given that her mother was such a passionate supporter of Daffodil Day. “She organised Daffodil Day collections in Ballinlough and she did them every year for a long time,” says Deirdre. “In her last year, her treatment finished in January and she passed away in September but in March she insisted on doing the collection on Daffodil Day. She arranged everything with her very good collectors and friends and she personally counted all the euro and cents.”
Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line
If you have worries or concerns about cancer, you can speak confidentially to an Irish Cancer Society Cancer Nurse through the Freephone Support Line on 1800 200 700.
Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm
For more information