A special fund is supporting families whose loved ones have incurable conditions or are in the last days of life at King’s and PRUH.
The Marina Patterson Memorial Trust Fund was set up by two parents in memory of their daughter, who sadly died in 1986, aged just 25. Now, on the 30th anniversary of Marina’s death, her sister Fiona has arranged to leave a wonderful gift in her will towards the fund.
The fund supports families whose loved ones are under the palliative care service. Families at PRUH will soon have three new camp beds which they can use to sleep by their loved ones’ bedside, thanks to the fund.
Marina suffered from a rare cancer which she was diagnosed with at three weeks old. She underwent many operations as a tiny baby, including having her kidney removed. Following ten difficult childhood years, she was declared cancer free.
After a mostly normal life, it was at the age of 23 that Marina sadly became ill again. Tumours were discovered all over her body; her cancer had come back, but far more aggressively this time.
Despite numerous rounds of chemotherapy, as she approached her 25th birthday, Marina was told that palliative care was the only treatment option left. She celebrated her birthday in March, but died at home the following month on 25 April 1986, surrounded by her family.
Comfort in helping others
Throughout her adult life, most of Marina’s treatment was at Queen Mary’s Hospital, a partner Trust of King’s.
‘When I was asked about buying camp beds with the fund, it made me think back to when I spent the night in hospital with Marina,’ says Fiona. ‘When someone dies, you feel so helpless that to help somebody else is comforting you as well. My family want to help others in a similar position to what we were in.’
Family as the unit of care
‘The ethos of palliative care is very much that the family is the unit of care,’ says Steve Marshall, social worker in the team. ‘This fund means that we can actually support the family as well as the patient, and gives us the flexibility to be quite creative with that support.’
King’s is a specialist centre in many areas such as haematology and cystic fibrosis, as well as being a trauma centre. This means that families often visit from far away, which can become expensive.
As well as buying larger items such as the camp beds, the fund is also used to help families with things like parking and travel costs, or to help them buy food.
‘It can be difficult to do things like this in hospitals because there are finite resources; it’s not the kind of thing that the NHS covers,’ Steve says.
‘There’s lots of evidence that people do much better in hospital and enjoy their experience more if their families are able to visit regularly. When it’s just the cost of a train ticket that’s stopping this, if we can help with that for someone who’s coming to the end of their life then it can make a huge difference.’
Keeping Marina’s memory alive
Fiona says that her decision to leave a gift in her will is helping her to continue her family’s special legacy.
‘I want to keep my sister’s memory alive,’ she says. ‘Helping other people who are terminally ill or very sick is a nice way to do it.’
Leaving a gift in your will can make a difference to patients and staff for years to come. Find out more about leaving a legacy gift to King’s College Hospital.