Hospice nurses give a special gift at Christmas

PUBLISHED: 14:00 04 January 2014

Christmas carols at the day hospice

Christmas carols at the day hospice


WHILE people across Weston tucked into their turkey and enjoyed Christmas Day with their families, others spent the festive season helping those in need.

The panto at the day hospiceThe panto at the day hospice

This is how the doctors, nurses and other staff at Weston Hospicecare spent their day.

On Christmas morning, nurses woke patients with a cup of tea, Christmas crackers and a special gift. Each patient was treated to a trolley of goodies, provided by the hospice chef, including sweets, sherry and Christmas cake.

Some patients were well enough to go home for Christmas dinner and some were joined by their families at the hospice in Uphill, so the chef cooked for them.

The hospice chaplain also dropped in to see the patients and provide extra support to the staff on the ward.

Day hospice nurses Bev Riddell, Wendy Rogers-Jones and Julie HardcastleDay hospice nurses Bev Riddell, Wendy Rogers-Jones and Julie Hardcastle

With carols, decorations and a lot of festive cheer, Christmas was a happy day at the hospice for everyone.

One of the members of staff who has seen many winter holidays at the hospice is Caroline Manuel (pictured left), a ward sister at the inpatient unit.

She has worked at the hospice since October 2000. Prior to that she was a district nurse caring for patients at the end of their lives.

She said: “It is important to celebrate Christmas because it is the normal thing to do, and helping people feel normal is so important, and it could be the last Christmas they will experience so it is important to make it right for them.”

Caroline Manuel, ward sister for the inpatient unitCaroline Manuel, ward sister for the inpatient unit

The hard work put in by nurses to make the festive season special does not go unnoticed by the patients.

Judith Elles is one of those patients. She was admitted on December 11, with basal cell carcinoma and colon cancer.

The 74-year-old wished to go home to her family in Cheddar for Christmas, so the nurses made it possible.

The hospice nurses put a care package in place, arranging for nurses to care for her at home, to ensure she received the care she needed.

She said: “The nurses at the hospice are just wonderful. The care is superb.

“Nobody need have any worries about coming to a place like this. The housekeeping staff made a Christmas hat for me, to shade my eyes from the light while I read.

“They came in and saw me squinting one day and then this hat appeared, now they keep threatening to decorate it with tinsel.

“The nurses here make it very pleasant, you get to know them and they just get on and do what they need to do.

“It’s great to have the support at Christmas time of course, but it’s just as important all year round. Since being here I have realised just how important.”

Ms Manuel says she finds the job incredibly rewarding because of the personal and detailed ethos behind Hospicecare.

She said: “You can do everything for patients and their families and feel that you’re giving everything to make a difficult situation good.”

Unsurprisingly, there are both good and bad aspects to a job which deals so closely with death.

Ms Manuel said: “The only bad side is the emotional toll. You feel like a sponge soaking it all up, especially if you’ve worked with a patient for a long time.

“Saying goodbye is hard and you don’t always get to say goodbye properly, because of the shifts we work. We have to be professional about it though. But, on the other hand, we get to work so closely with patients and their families.”

A hospice spokesman praised the hard work of the nurses and other staff who help make Christmas, and every other day, special for the patients.

She said: “We’re so grateful to all the staff who work over the Christmas period, but also to our volunteer drivers, companion sitters and receptionists, some of whom work over Christmas, but always throughout the year making sure we can provide normality and excellent care 24 hours a day. We couldn’t do it without them.”

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