Rennie Grove Hospice Care offers a 24/7 service to patients the whole year through – and Christmas day is no exception. Around 15 of the charity’s hospice at home nurses will be working on 25 December and into the early hours of Boxing Day to ensure as many patients as possible can enjoy Christmas at home with their families.
Suzanne Fitzpatrick, part of Rennie Grove’s hospice at home nursing team caring for patients in Wycombe, says: “While I’ve never worked on Christmas day before now, I don’t mind in the slightest doing it this year. I feel that the difference Rennie Grove nurses can make in people’s own homes is immense, as a loved one reaches their end of life. If I can make just one family’s situation that bit easier by being there, by supporting everyone in the family and ensuring the patient is settled and comfortable and can remain in their own home for their end of life care, then it’s all worthwhile. Losing someone close to you is so much worse at Christmas time, so being able to be the nurse who supports a family, through this most awful time for them, is actually a very privileged position to be in.”
Nurses like Suzanne will spend Christmas making planned visits to patients, perhaps checking or reloading a syringe driver to ensure they remain as pain-free as possible, or supporting them with the side effects caused by treatment. They’ll also respond to urgent calls from family members, which might mean administering pain relief from the 'just in case' medication available in every Rennie Grove patient’s home, in cases where a patient’s condition has suddenly deteriorated.
Sue Varvel, Director of Nursing and Clinical Services at Rennie Grove, adds: “Our nurses’ main aim at Christmas – as it is every day of the year – is to give patients the choice to be cared for at home. Being with loved ones in a place you know and love is all the more poignant at this time of year – so our nurses will do everything in their power to prevent a patient having to be admitted to hospital at Christmas. Sometimes it’s sadly unavoidable, but by being at the end of a phone any time of the day or night - able to get to a patient as soon as symptoms occur – our nurses make it much more likely that patients can spend Christmas at home with their families.”
Suzanne and her colleagues will travel more than 13,500 miles over the 12 days of Christmas, making around 600 home visits to patients in order to make this happen.
Sue adds: “It’s thanks to our local communities that we are able to give so many patients this choice. Your generosity funds 84% of our £7.2 million annual running costs and your contribution helps patients and families create particularly precious memories at Christmas time. The memories may be priceless but there is a very real cost involved in making them happen, which we couldn’t hope to cover without you.”