Caring for those in our communities this Christmas Day
The festive period has well and truly begun. As Christmas Day approaches and many of us look forward to a break - the 25 December will be a normal working day for many in Solent NHS Trust, who are working around the clock to keep people out of hospital and at home with their loved ones.
Helen Currie, Community Matron for the Portsmouth End of Life support service, has worked for Solent NHS Trust since its creation and has over 30 years of experience working within our community over the festive period, including on Christmas Day.
Here are Helen’s reflections on what it’s like working as a community nurse at this time of year, caring for people so that they can stay at home with their nearest and dearest. Helen said: “There is no real difference, for community nurses, on Christmas Day. We provide a smaller service, just like working a weekend or any bank holiday, where we prioritise people who have critical care needs. We are a service that provides the care they need, and this does not change no matter what day it is.”
Helen goes onto explain the extra special service the nurses try to provide on Christmas Day. She reveals: “Some community nurses will bring presents or a small gift for their patients. This might be some bubble bath, cream or anything nice they can open."
She continues: “Many of our patients are elderly, so often have no one else and the nurses are the only support they have. This is why it is so important to bring happiness to patients who otherwise would be very lonely on Christmas.”
For patients who do have family to share Christmas with, Helen explains: “We make sure to work with the families to discuss visiting times; we also show them how to use equipment in case there was a problem allowing them to be able to care for their loved one themselves, at home”.
Helen then spoke about her feelings towards working on Christmas. Although nurses would normally work a Christmas and have the next off, for Helen this will be her second Christmas working in a row. She said: “I really enjoy making it as nice a time as possible for patients, by being welcoming, supportive and caring in their time of need.”
She goes on to say: “As a community nurse it is important to make Christmas Day a happy and memorable day for the patients, their families and fellow employees, who are working on one of the most important days of the year.”
2020 has been an extremely challenging and restrictive year for us all. Helen speaks about how the rules and guidelines given due to COVID-19 may make this Christmas Day a little bit different for our community nurses and their patients.
Whilst Helen sees no real change in the overall tasks and duty of care, she does point out a few things that will be missed this year. “Normally, nurses will wear a funny Christmas hat or flashing badge to bring a bit of fun, though for infection control these extra touches will not be possible, but we will still try our best to bring the festive cheer.”
“The one thing I do find really hard is the fact that patients cannot see our smiles, so we must smile through our arms and eyes. Even though things might be different, we will still be here for our patients for anything they may need”.
“If you are working this Christmas, I want to thank you for the care and support you provide to patients whatever role you may be in, you are all super stars.”.
Helen Currie, Community Matron for the Portsmouth End of Life support service, Solent NHS Trust