Acorn Stairlifts is proud to have a national partnership with Marie Curie, the UK-wide charity providing care and support for people living with any terminal illness, and their facilities.
The joint initiative sees up to five Acorn stairlifts per month – 60 per year – installed free of charge for Marie Curie patients across the UK. This enables them to remain living in the comfort of their own home for longer, with care and support from Marie Curie nurses. In also relieves the pressure on beds in Marie Curie's network of hospices, ensuring they are available for the patients who need them most.
The national initiative grew from West Yorkshire-based Acorn Stairlifts' existing relationship with its local Marie Curie Hospice at Bradford. Marie Curie has been working to help people in the UK for more than 65 years and last year alone cared for more than 40,000 people across the country. One of its key activities is providing Marie Curie Nurses who work night and day in people's homes providing both hand-on care and vital emotional support.
The charity also has a network of hospices giving the reassurance of specialist round-the-clock care and support in a friendly and welcoming environment for anyone living with a terminal illness. This care and support also extends to their loved ones, who are also going through a difficult time.
Other services provided by Marie Curie include a dedicated Support Line and online help through its comprehensive website. It includes a wealth of information and an 'online community' where people can share their experiences and support each other. The charity also has an army of trained Helper Volunteers who regularly visit people who need support to help with things like attending appointments or just to have a friendly chat over a cup of tea.
These are just a few of the many invaluable services which Marie Curie now provides. The charity's origins are linked to the pioneering Marie Curie Hospital, opened in 1930 in Hampstead, London. It specialised in the "radiological treatment of women suffering from cancer and allied diseases", treating 700 patients per year and equipped with the latest technologies and research laboratories.
In 1948 the decision was taken to separate from the newly established NHS and instead seek to perpetuate the name of Marie Curie in the charitable medical field. The Marie Curie Memorial Foundation was established and this was the beginning of the charity now simply known as Marie Curie. Fundraising began at around the same time and has been supporting the charity ever since.
Right from the beginning the charity's aims were similar to what they are today, focussed on providing special residential care homes for cancer patients, specialist home nursing, help with practical needs, and giving the public information and advice about cancer and other conditions.
In the 1950s and '60s ten Marie Curie Homes for cancer patients was established, all in converted and adapted buildings which had been donated or were let to the charity at a nominal rent. In 1958 the charity also began running its own day and night nursing service, beginning in London and by the end of the '50s available in nine areas of the UK. The charity also began making grants to fund vital medical research.
While the charity was grateful for the donated buildings which provided its first residential homes, they were often far from ideal for caring for seriously ill cancer patients. In the 1960s it was decided that in future all Marie Curie Homes would be purpose-designed and built, with the first opened in Belfast in 1965. As well as building new homes, the existing ones were gradually replaced.
Meanwhile the home nursing service continued to spread across the UK. By 1974 Marie Curie Nurses were caring for almost 3,700 patients across 200 local authorities. Recognising the value of this service, the NHS agrees to cover half the cost for England and Wales, with similar agreements later negotiated in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
As the charity grew, so did its need for fundraising, with the Marie Curie Memorial Foundation pioneering several new methods including writing to potential donors seeking support and launching appeals backed by well-known celebrities including actress Dame Flora Robson and boxer Henry Cooper.
From the 1980s the Marie Curie Homes moved away from providing long-term care to cancer patients and became increasing focused on Hospice care – caring for more patients, who were more seriously ill, usually for shorter periods of time. The homes were later renamed Marie Curie Hospices, providing specialist palliative care and day services to their local communities.
Home Nursing continued at the core of the charity's work. By the late 1990s around 40% of people who died at home from cancer had received care from Marie Curie Nurses. The focus on research also grew, with the Marie Curie Research Institute making significant contributions to medical knowledge and advancements in cancer care and prevention. Now the charity's research focus is on finding better ways of caring for terminally ill people and their families.
In 1995 there was a name change to Marie Curie Cancer Care, followed by another in 2014 when the charity became simply Marie Curie. This latest change reflected its work with other terminal illnesses, not solely cancer.
Since 2000 the charity has also become a major campaigning force, championing the rights of people with terminal illness, particularly their right of choice to die at home. Its care services have continued to develop, working closely with the NHS, other charities, local independent hospices and corporate supporters such as Acorn Stairlifts.
Our company secretary Dave Belmont commented: "Marie Curie is a wonderful organisation which has been dedicated to helping people for over 65 years. We're delighted to be working with them to help improve the quality of life for people living with a terminal illness."
To find out more about Marie Curie and how you can help support its vital work, click here. For more about the remarkable woman who inspired the charity and its work, see tomorrow's blog.