Posted Monday 14 December 2020
With the festive period looking somewhat different for most this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, nurses across the country are facing the same busy schedule. Adult nursing lecturer at Kingston University Nicola Watts explains how healthcare workers bring some Christmas spirit and joy for patients who are in hospital during the holidays.
For many, Christmas is a time to have a well-deserved break from work commitments and to spend quality time with family and loved ones. For the staff of the NHS, the same commitment, pace and precision of the work that is provided all year round does not cease for the Christmas period, however that does not mean the festive spirit is neglected.
Wards and departments will develop a good spirited competitive nature for the best decorated ward; with Christmas trees, fairy lights and festive creations made from bedpans adorning the walls and ward entrances – infection control and health and safety permitting, of course! All of this providing festive joy in what is the busiest time of the year for the NHS.
As a nurse, working over the festive period is an accepted part of the profession with Christmas rotas discussed as early as September to ensure everyone gets a day off over the holidays. Although we may be missing out on our own family festivities, we bring this joy to work with us and will share this time with our work families consisting of our colleagues and patients.
Due to the amazing diversity of the staff in the NHS, different cultures will come together during this time and you will experience and learn how Christmas is celebrated, and the different traditions fostered by other countries. This will usually be in the form of food, an abundance of which is laid out in staff rooms for all to share, with some extra goodies as a thank you from ward managers and matrons.
Patients are also included in the festivities as we know many will be missing their own families at this time, being too unwell to go home. The nurses will make the day as special as can be and will provide wrapped gifts for our in-patients on Christmas day, will spend time with them and listen to their fascinating stories of years past – until their visitors arrive later in the day.
Although there is a different atmosphere in the wards and departments over the festive period, with tinsel, twinkling lights and a gentle hum of Christmas songs mingling with the general hustle and bustle of ward life, the true spirit of Christmas lives all year round in the staff that fill these areas. 2020 has been a difficult and challenging year for the NHS, facing the unknown and pulling together to support and care for not only our patients and their relatives but also for each other.
Christmas may look a little different this year for many trusts, as decorations will be kept to a minimum and the abundance of visitors will be reduced to one consistent visitor per patient, meaning our nursing values will be required more so than ever. Compassion, kindness, generosity and warmth are very much associated with the meaning of Christmas, but for nurses this is their life's work and not just for Christmas and they will do their very best to provide each and every patient with joy, hope and care this Christmas and wishing for a happy and healthy new year for all.