Car­ing at Christ­mas

Kent Life - - Charity News - WORDS: Sarah Sturt PHO­TOS: Manu Palomeque

looks at the con­tri­bu­tion el­lenor makes to pa­tient care at Christ­mas, in the hospice and

through its com­mu­nity pal­lia­tive care teams

We’ve all got them. Older mem­bers of our fam­ily, friend­ship and com­mu­nity groups whose re­main­ing Christ­mases might not be in dou­ble fig­ures. Fac­tor in that some are also away from home and the fes­tive sea­son can seem the most chal­leng­ing time of the year, not the most won­der­ful.

“We don’t count the days, we make the days count,” says se­nior nurse Tanya Ring, speak­ing to me at el­lenor hospice in Gravesend.

I’m here to find out about the con­tri­bu­tion Kent’s only char­ity to pro­vide hospice care for all ages in their place of choice makes to pa­tient care at Christ­mas, both in the hospice and through its com­mu­nity pal­lia­tive care teams.

A rel­a­tive new­comer to the team Tanya, who com­pleted a post-grad cer­tifi­cate in end-of-life care in 2015 and wanted to put it to good use, tells me: “I thought I knew pal­lia­tive care, hav­ing done it in the com­mu­nity for many years, but com­ing to el­lenor it’s taken on a com­pletely new mean­ing; I’ve learnt so much. This is the most re­ward­ing job I’ve ever had.”

As a nurse of 33 years, 20 of them work­ing for Com­mu­nity Rapid Re­sponse, that’s quite a state­ment. But look­ing at the brightly dec­o­rated, buzzy pub­lic ar­eas and see­ing how smi­ley and wel­com­ing ev­ery­one is, with none of those hushed whis­pers you might ex­pect from a hospice, you can see why Tanya loves it here.

“Christ­mas can be emo­tional and dif­fi­cult,” she ad­mits. “My own three chil­dren have come to ex­pect that I’m away, but here we try to make it as spe­cial as we can.

“We have lots of dec­o­ra­tions, the nurses dress up, there’s a day ther­apy party and we’ve got some rather spe­cial en­ter­tain­ment planned, which we hope we can pull off! Ev­ery­one is so friendly, and this is a happy en­vi­ron­ment, de­spite the cir­cum­stances around why we are all here,” she adds.

“el­lenor gives me the time to care, not just for the pa­tient but for the ex­tended fam­ily too. As Dame

Mas­cot El­lie joins Fa­ther Christ­mas and el­lenor staff in­clud­ing Linda Cof­fey (third from left) and Tanya Ring (far right)

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