Severn Hospice staff keep magic of Christmas alive in age of Covid

Staff at a county charity are going the extra mile to keep Christmas magical for families living with incurable illness.

Preparing sprouts for Christmas Day at the Severn Hospice are, from left, kitchen staff Linda Jones, Rachael Cooper and Ellie Brodie
Preparing sprouts for Christmas Day at the Severn Hospice are, from left, kitchen staff Linda Jones, Rachael Cooper and Ellie Brodie

In the days leading up to 25 December, Severn Hospice normally becomes a hub of festive activities as patients and relatives come together and celebrate.

Choirs and school pupils usually visit wards and sing carols, families can request special events with loved ones and supporters drop off donations in their droves.

This year to keep patients safe, the pandemic means none of this is possible, but nursing staff are determined this will not dampen their Christmas spirit.

Senior nursing assistant Mel Pugh recalls many happy memories in her 13 years at the hospice.

Mel said: “Christmas is magical here and a joy to work; we allow choirs in to sing carols, schools will come in and sing, we have music on, and families can arrange to do things with loved ones on our wards.

“We’ll do anything for our patients but this year we’ll be extremely limited; it’s going to be very different, but we’ll try our very best and make it as magical as we can.”

Some of the Hospice staff working over Christmas are, from left, Amanda Ellis, Mel Pugh, Andrea Paskin, Steph Higgins and Denise Heys.

Nursing assistant Steph Higgins added: “We’ll try our hardest to make this Christmas special as we always do; we will try and bring a bit of laughter and joy into the day, put tinsel in our hair and wear bauble earrings, so it feels festive for people who are here.”

Staff nurse Andrea Paskin and nursing assistant Amanda Ellis are working the night shift on Christmas Day.

Amanda said: “We’re a good team, it’s our working family here, so we treat patients like we want our loved ones to be cared for, so our moods like be brighter and we’ll talk to them, particular if they’ve got no family and they’re on their own. We’ll be going that extra mile because we’re passionate about what we do.”

Andrea added: “We’re going to make it special for the patients; whatever they need or request, we’ll try and make their wishes come true.”

Staff nurse Denise Heys joined the hospice in March just as the country went into the first lockdown.

She said: “Although families will be split up with patients being in here, we’ll still make it special for them by being here and doing our job and giving good care to the patients and their relatives.”

From left, Caroline Webb, with fellow catering staff, Jo, Melanie and Tracy.

Head chefs Caroline Webb and Linda Jones, who work at the hospice’s sites in Bicton, Shrewsbury, and Apley, Telford, respectively, are also adding some festive flavour.

Linda said: “December is always an exciting time for us and lately we’ve been busy visiting patients and asking them ‘what do you fancy to eat today?’ rather than doing this the night before; and this is working really well.

“On Christmas Day we’ll serve up delicious meals and there will be lots of treats for everyone to tuck into – our patients will be spoilt for choice.”

Caroline said: “We try to look after our colleagues too, and this year staff and volunteers had the option to enjoy afternoon teas, turkey bap and chips, and a two-course Christmas meal.

“We’re also getting ready to open our new café and the last few months have been a hive of activity in trialling different products for it."

There will be more Covid-secure festive fare when Father Christmas visits both sites, chaperoned by Kay Britton, the charity’s hospitality and catering manager, who will dish out non-alcoholic mulled wine to staff and families.

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