Dedicated St Clare Hospice staff pull out all the stops to make Christmas special

Charity / Wed 16th Dec 2020 at 10:40am

Dedicated Hospice staff pull out all the stops to make Christmas special

THIS Christmas, when some of us will be making the most of being able to spend precious time with select family members, a number of dedicated St Clare Hospice staff will be working hard to make sure Christmas is as special as possible for their patients and families.

The West Essex and East Herts charity will be operating their vital care services as usual across the Christmas period – including their Inpatient Unit, Hospice at Home, and Community services. The charity’s clinical and support teams will be working around the clock to care for patients with life-limiting illnesses, both in their own homes and in the Hospice itself.

Sarah Thompson, Chief Executive at St Clare Hospice, said: “I’m so proud of the way that everyone at St Clare Hospice has pulled together this difficult year, to ensure that those who need it can still access our expert, compassionate, end of life care.

“This Christmas I’d like to thank all of our staff for their efforts, and give special thanks to those in our team who are making personal sacrifices during the festive period so that our patients and their families are supported and cared for, and can make the most of their time together.

“Along with other key workers, our staff – nurses, care assistants, doctors, housekeepers, chefs – are all part of the essential frontline services, who are needed 24 hours a day, 365 days a week. This year it’s particularly important to give thanks to everyone within the health and social care professions and celebrate their hard work, dedication and outstanding contribution to the local community.”

Dr Qamar Abbas, Medical Director at St Clare Hospice, explained why he will be working at the Hospice this Christmas: “I feel very much at peace working at the Hospice on Christmas Day; it is a privilege which I have enjoyed for many years and I hope to continue doing it.

“For many patients and their families, it is their last Christmas together and working at the Hospice gives me the opportunity to make it as peaceful for them as possible. I bring in some food to share which my wife makes every year for the Hospice staff. I meet people and see patients, where I am needed.”

Dr Abbas adds: “Christmas spirit is not just about festivity, but also about contentment, humanity, patience, courage, empathy and respect. Working on Christmas Day at the Hospice makes me able to reflect on these values.”

A number of nursing staff on the Inpatient Unit will also be working during Christmas, and going the extra mile to make things extra special for the patients and their families. Stockings are a huge part of the St Clare Christmas tradition on the Inpatient Unit and staff have been getting them ready in preparation for the big day.

“Each year, gifts are donated to fill the Christmas stockings which are placed at the end of all our patients’ beds on Christmas morning,” explains Lynne Hooper, Manager of the Inpatient Unit.

This is a tradition that has been continued for many years, bringing joy to the patients who are in the Inpatient Unit on Christmas Day. Every Christmas morning, the night staff place a stocking at the end of the patient’s bed, filled with carefully selected wrapped presents.

There is still time to donate to St Clare Hospice’s stockings and buy gifts for families that the Hospice supports over Christmas. The Hospice has set up an Amazon wish list, which can be found here: stclarehospice.org.uk/get-involved/this-winter

Lynne adds: “I’d like to say a huge, huge thank you to the people who donate gifts for our Christmas stockings, such kindness and thought goes a long way.”

Elaine Huggett, Staff Nurse on the Inpatient Unit at St Clare Hospice, will be working on Christmas Day and said: “This year, I am privileged to experience Christmas Day twice; once with my Hospice family, the patients and their families within our care on the 25th, and then with my biological family in Harlow on the 26th. And both days will be made just as special and memorable as each other.

“The Hospice is a very welcoming and warm environment but at Christmas this is heightened and we try and make it an enjoyable and happy memory for them and their families and, if possible, make their little wishes come true.

“Christmas is all about families being together and celebrating the end of a year, showing your love for each other by exchanging presents and kind words. But we know this year is going to be harder on us all, and especially our patients – due to the restrictions on visiting.

“Even with the restrictions, we will still try our very best to make the day as memorable and happy as possible; families eating Christmas dinner together in their rooms, stockings left with little gifts in for them to open in the morning, Christmas songs playing in the unit or their rooms if they wish. And for some it may be arranging a short home visit so they can spend quality time at home with their extended family.”

St Clare staff will also be continuing to support people in the community throughout the festive period, with a number of their nursing staff working on Christmas Day. Sonia Haigh, Hospice at Home Manager, at St Clare, explained: “St Clare will continue to deliver all of its vital care services in the community over the festive period, supporting people and families to have the best Christmas possible in their own homes. It’s particularly busy for the Hospice at Home team at this time – as people are being discharged from hospitals and everybody wants to make sure that they are at home for Christmas. That’s where we step in to make sure people are comfortable and supported.”

It’s not just the clinical teams who are working over Christmas; staff in the facilities teams will also be working. This includes hospice chefs, housekeepers and handymen, who are all working on the frontline to ensure our patients are safe and well cared for.

Luke Matthews, Facilities Manager at St Clare Hospice, said: “Often it’s the little things at Christmas that make the most difference, and a lovely Christmas dinner, in a clean environment is just one of the ways we’re working to make Christmas special.”

Luke added: “So many in my team work tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure our patients, their families, and our staff are safe and well cared for throughout the year. Their commitment to the Hospice is so great that many of them selflessly offer to work Christmas, year after year; it’s so inspiring to be part of such a dedicated team.”

If you, or someone you love, is suffering from a life-limiting illness and could benefit from the support of St Clare, you can contact them on their 24 hour advice line: 01279 773773 or find out more about their care by visiting: stclarehospice.org.uk/care

To find out how you can support the work of St Clare Hospice this Christmas and to make a donation, visit stclarehospice.org.uk/donate

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