Christmas is just around the corner, but for people with a terminal illness it can be an emotional and challenging time of year.
Last year, St Catherine’s Hospice cared for over 2,000 patients across Sussex and Surrey with a life limiting condition and also supported their family and friends.
Whether people are facing their last Christmas together, or are dealing with a bereavement, St Catherine’s tries make what can be a difficult time as special and memorable as possible.
Wendy Samuel, staff nurse at St Catherine’s, said: “Working in Day Hospice in the run up to Christmas, a time of both celebration and sadness for our patients and their families, is satisfying and challenging.
“To help support them at this time of year we plan various activities including inviting local school choirs and musicians to perform at our Christmas lunch and, of course, Father Christmas also manages to fit us into his busy schedule.
“We also arrange festive crafts such as seasonal art workshops, Christmas table decoration and pottery painting which is then fired ready to
be given as presents.
“Getting out to the shops is challenging for the fittest of us. We are fortunate to have a lady, who had a family member cared for by St Catherine’s, bring a selection of items to be bought by our patients.
“Some patients are unable to leave home without help and so wouldn’t be able to buy surprise presents for their family and friends otherwise. We help patients wrap the presents and hide them so their loved ones don’t know about their surprise gift until Christmas Day.
“I remember helping a gentleman choose items for his wife’s Christmas stocking and another time I took a gentleman in a wheelchair to our coffee shop where he chose some lovely jewellery from the gift case, as a gift.
“It’s very rewarding and our patients are always so grateful.”
The hospice provides 24 hour care across the entire festive period and many patients benefit from St Catherine’s specialised care in their own homes provided by the hospice’s Community Nursing Team.
This allows them to spend Christmas with the people who matter most in the place they’re most comfortable. For patients staying on the inpatient wards, although St Catherine’s can’t take away the fact they’re unwell, the hospice does everything it can to make Christmas as enjoyable as possible.
Toys and presents are given to visiting children and, on Christmas Eve, nurses leave stockings for each patient staying on the wards. .
It costs St Catherine’s £180,000 a year to fund care over the 12 days of Christmas.
Receiving just one third of their funding from the NHS the hospice relies on the generosity of the community for the rest.
Find out more at www.stch.org.uk/microsites/christmas
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