Christmas is a special time for many of us, but it holds even greater importance to families living with the impacts of a life-limiting illness.
During the festive season, our team are working hard to ensure that patients are as comfortable as possible and that families are given the opportunity to create precious memories. Memories they can look back on for years to come.
Whether someone is being cared for in their own home, or on the ward at the hospice inpatient unit, the Ashgate Hospicecare team will do everything possible to make Christmastime special.
Here we look at how they do just that.
Christmas in the Inpatient Unit
First things first, the ward is fully decorated with Christmas trees and sparkly fairy lights, and patients are offered the opportunity to have a small Christmas tree in their room.
In the lead up to the big day, patients and their families will be supported to create Christmas cards and decorations together. The decorations will be beautiful keepsakes that families can take home and keep for years to come.
Christmas Day begins with a present or two for the patients, each gift kindly donated by the local business community. Then families are invited to enjoy Christmas dinner with their loved one, complete with Christmas crackers and a glass of their favourite tipple. Even in these uncertain times, this is something we are committed to providing.
Young visitors are not forgotten and are welcomed into the hospice with a selection box from underneath the tree.
Christmas at home
Our community teams cover Chesterfield, North East Derbyshire, and a large part of the Derbyshire Dales and High Peak area. Every Christmas they take each patient and their families a box of chocolates as a small gift from the hospice.
The reality is that for many patients Christmas isn’t about presents or overindulging, it’s about spending time with those they hold dearest. Christmas is a goal they have been working towards, knowing that it may sadly be their last. The goal is to spend time with their family and be as symptom free as possible.
Our community teams are dedicated to ensuring that patients feel the best they can, with the least pain, so they can enjoy Christmas. They will talk to the patient about pacing themselves, perhaps having a nap part way through the day, so they can enjoy Christmas to its fullest.
The team will also advise on what medication to take to help reduce fullness and bloating and will offer other advice such as eating little but often to avoid sickness.
They may sound like small things, but they really can make the biggest difference. Allowing families the chance to sit down together, share a meal together and laugh together once more.
Christmas at the Day Hospice
Due to COVID-19, Christmas at the Day Hospice has gone virtual this year. That’s not to say that their Christmas offerings are diminished in any way. In fact, you could say the Day Hospice team LOVE Christmas!
They have been determined to not let COVID-19 dampen their spirits, and it’s been full steam ahead with their Christmas plans.
Patients and their families who enjoy crafting can learn how to make a Christmas wreath or create art inspired by the winter solstice. Although everyone will take part virtually this is a great way for families in similar situations to feel connected to one another.
Then there’s the annual Christmas party. This year, patients will be sent a special package in the post consisting of their virtual invite, party hat, bingo cards, song words for a singalong, cracker jokes and a special Christmas treat!
Every year, children from Wigley Primary School visit the Day Hospice for a special Christmas performance. This year they’re providing us with the next best thing, a festive recording to be aired during the Christmas party. There are sure to be plenty of people singing along!
For those celebrating without their loved one this year
Ashgate Hospicecare understands that Christmas can be an especially difficult time for those who have experienced a bereavement.
And this year, with COVID-19 restrictions, things are even more challenging with limits on who can meet, where and when.
Whether this is your first Christmas without your loved one, or you were bereaved some time ago, Ashgate Hospicecare can provide support and advice.
Email the Supportive Care team at email@example.com