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Two dedicated Ashgate Hospice nurses will be working side-by-side on Christmas Day this year to provide vital care and support to patients in their homes.
Senior Palliative Care Nurses Helen Cooper and Liz Everitt care for patients and their families living with a palliative or end of life condition across the North Derbyshire community.
The duo, who have worked at the hospice for 47 years between them, will be fielding calls through the hospice’s advice line between 9am and 5pm on Christmas Day this year.
The service offers a vital lifeline to patients who could be experiencing a crisis on Christmas Day – knowing they are there to provide support and give reassurance to families if they feel that they need it.
They will be on hand to offer specialist advice as well as practical and emotional support to assist patients in managing complex symptoms during a difficult time.
Helen said: “Christmas is such an emotional celebration for many people and a time when families traditionally meet together.
“When a loved one is unwell at Christmas, it’s not only heartbreaking for families and carers, but it can be an incredibly stressful time too.
“By working with Liz on the Advice Line on Christmas Day, I hope we can ensure that every patient and their families receive the best care and support that they need.”
Not only will Helen and Liz support families in their homes, but also patients in care homes too, while offering specialist symptom management advice to professionals across the local healthcare system.
Some of the people they support could be nearing the end of their lives and many will have both physically and emotionally complex symptoms.
Liz, who joined the hospice in 2011, said: “It’s not an issue working at Christmastime; I will be proud to be there to assist patients and fellow healthcare professionals, as I would be at any time of the year.
“Over the years, I have worked many Christmases in many settings, and it comes with its challenges, but we do what we can to be there for the people who need our support.
“It is important that we help patients and families prepare for this time and a lot of work goes on before Christmas.
“We try to make sure patients and families feel well supported with plans already place.”
Helen, who has been at the hospice since its inception in 1988, has worked numerous Christmas shifts over the years, including during her time as nurse on the Inpatient Unit.
She said she had experienced some “never to be forgotten” moments over the years.
“I clearly remember visiting a gentleman with my Occupational Therapist colleague Sarah,” added Helen.
“He lived in extremely poor accommodation; it was cold; he had no money for the meter and very little in the way of personal belongings.
“I sent an email around the hospice shops for bedding, personal clothing items and a heater. The response was amazing!
“Sarah organised a hospital bed and we then went to set this up and deliver the donated items. I have never seen anyone so happy.
“This was a wonderful experience seeing many staff from the hospice come together to help someone who was in need.”
This year, Ashgate must raise another £9 million over and above NHS funding to provide its care.
A donation of £25 will help make a patient’s Christmas extra special by offering them and their family a delicious home-cooked meal, complete with a specially dressed table, a Christmas cracker and a gift too.
Anyone who would like to support Ashgate Hospice’s Christmas Appeal can find out more here or calling the charity’s fundraising team on 01246 567250.