In August we announced the very sad news of the death of Dr Mary Baines. Along with her close friend, colleague and collaborator, Dame Cicely Saunders, Mary was one of the most influential figures in our story and the development of the hospice movement. She worked here as a consultant from 1968-1997 and later as Emeritus Consultant. In truth she never really left us.
Mary’s story is inextricably linked with Dame Cicely’s and the history of St Christopher’s so we’re delighted that we’re now able to share a previously unreleased filmed interview with her. In this short film Mary recalls why she came to work here, her memories of key moments and, importantly, a message for those still looking to carry the torch for hospice care.
In typically modest fashion, Mary devotes much of the interview to her admiration for Dame Cicely, underplaying her own hugely significant role. Having trained with Dame Cicely at St Thomas’s Mary is able to provide unique insights, like for instance realising that Dame Cicely was training in medicine to care for the dying, something that Mary admits seemed completely extraordinary to her at the time. She says Dame Cicely had two purposes; to look after patients to the best of her ability and to change the world’s view of dying. “That is what St Christopher’s has achieved,” Mary concludes.
Mary’s major achievement was establishing the first end of life home care service. In the film she says: “Lots of people still think of hospice as a building with beds. There are lots of these, but hospice is vastly wider than that. It is a way of caring for people at the end of life that can be done in a building with beds but can also be done at home or in a nursing home where people can receive hospice care.”
Mary charges us all to continue the legacy left by her and Dame Cicely. “We need to go on working to relieve symptoms other than just pain and the work of St Christopher’s should be spread throughout the country and affect everybody wherever and whenever they need it. That is true not just of this country but the world.”
For further inspiration from an exceptional woman watch the film now.