A former carer who spent years looking after OAPS at a nursing home is now a resident there herself – and is still known as ‘matron’.
Maureen Marsh, 80, spent her entire career as a nurse but is now being looked after at her old workplace after being diagnosed with dementia.
But Maureen, known as Mo, is still respectfully known there as “matron” within the home and often keeps a watchful eye on standards.
Staff at Heanton Nursing Home near Braunton, Devon, said she still likes to offer her support and experience to them.
And she can also often be found taking notes, supervising or authorising the home manager to sign off the payroll.
Although she never formally trained as a nurse, she had extensive experience in many settings including a Barnardo’s children’s home, a psychiatric ward, Burrow House in Ilfracombe and finally Heanton.
Her son Stuart said she gained an interest in nursing from an early age by attending her local St John Ambulance where she learned first aid and basic nursing skills.
He said even then staff noticed she was at ease with people who were unwell.
Stuart said: “I think this may have been her first inspiration to follow a path in nursing.
“Nurse is just another word to describe a strong person enough to tolerate anything and soft enough to understand anyone.”
Stuart was the first of Maureen’s children, Mo having married in 1958. He was born in 1960 and was followed by his sister Caroline in 1965.
She married again in 1976 to Terry, and moved to Devon and went to work in the now closed Burrow House in Ilfracombe before going on to Heanton.
As well as her professional career, she gave her time as a volunteer over the course of 25 years to help the sick and terminally ill on various pilgrimages to Lourdes in France.
The nursing home said she enjoyed her time at Lourdes and this amazing life experience enabled her to combine her religious practices and occupation.
An account of this is proudly positioned outside her room at Heanton.
She moved into the home as a resident in 2016.
A spokesperson for the home said: “Mo is certainly a charismatic figure within the Heanton family. So, despite having been in retirement for many years, Mo is still very much the ruling Matron at Heanton.”
Maureen Marsh was born on the 20th June 1940 at her father’s RAF base in Norfolk during an air raid.
Her first experience of nursing was at the St. John’s ambulance that she attended at a young age, where she learnt first aid and basic nursing skills.
The spokesperson added: “Even at such a tender age it was noted amongst staff that she was at ease with people who were unwell.
“A few years on and retirement has not quelled Mo’s appetite for taking care of those in need.
“Now living with a dementia, Heanton Nursing Home’s focus on life history and the importance of incorporating that into the care provided, enables Mo to continue to live with purpose, attachment and belonging. Being involved in this meaningful occupation has given Mo a new lease of life.
“Although never qualified as a nurse, there is no doubt that throughout Mo’s life her dedication to taking care of those in need always was above and beyond a form of income for her.
“For Mo, as with so many within the health and social care sector, it is a way of life that continues to dedicate herself to. The team at Heanton enable Mo to continue living her best life highlighting the power of occupational history and life identity in dementia care.
“She continues to care, love and embrace anyone who she feels needs her support at Heanton.”