When I visited my mother in hospital on Christmas Day I felt very grateful to the staff, who were working as hard as always. My mother’s needs were as acute on that day as on any other.
Working over Christmas is tough for nurses as they balance the demands and needs of their own lives and their work in a job that is 24/7. As nurses well know, illness takes no account of bank holidays. And winter pressures are particularly acute this year. Waiting times in A&E are already showing that trusts across the country are struggling to hit the four-hour wait target.
It is difficult to go to work when others are not. Getting up early when it feels like the rest of the world is in bed, or leaving behind family and friends settling down on the sofa to watch a film as you go in for a night shift isn’t easy. But it is without doubt that patients really appreciate nurses’ efforts at this time of year.
One in four older people are dreading Christmas with fears of being lonely and missing loved ones who have died, a survey by Age UK reveals. For many patients in the community, a visit from a nurse may be their only human contact over the “festive” season.
An older person who is struggling through a lonely Christmas will feel greatly lifted by your ring on the doorbell and the care and support you offer. Patients waking up in bed in hospital will know that your arrival for a shift on Christmas day is not without some sacrifice.
Nurses are the backbone of the health service and at Christmas they offer care to patients as always and a lifeline to the old and frail in the community. I hope that appreciation makes it easier to get out of bed and go to work over the holidays.