The Emergency Department team at Furness General Hospital last Christmas Day
When most of us are relaxing and tucking into a Christmas dinner, employees of our Trust will be providing compassionate care to patients and visitors. Here are the thoughts of just a few of our colleagues who will be working this Christmas Day.
Michelle Roberts, Clinical Leader, Emergency Department, Furness General Hospital
Michelle Roberts (right) with Dayle Akred
I see working at Christmas as an important part of my job. There’s always a good team spirit on Christmas Day. I like to jolly everyone along because I know what it’s like being away from your family and you just want to cry, especially when my son was little. It tends to be very poorly people who come in at Christmas. They don’t want to be here but they’re so ill that they have to come. In a way, it’s a normal day for us as we still need to have the same amount of people working in the department.
I have worked here for 28 years so I’ve done every shift imaginable. This year I will be doing the early shift from 7am to 3pm. My husband is a paramedic and we used to work opposite shifts so there was always someone at home for our son. Our son is 16 years old now and it was really hard when he was younger. It used to break my heart leaving him on Christmas Day. The only time we all had Christmas together was when my son was 13 years old and he said how nice it was.
We have our sad days in the department when there is a death. It’s devastating for the family and it will be something they always remember because of the time of year. Dealing with death is part of our job but that doesn’t make it any easier to cope with. It’s all about being there for people. Hopefully people appreciate what we’re doing.
Dayle Akred, Patient Flow Coordinator, Furness General Hospital
I’ve worked at FGH for 16 years and I’ve been in the Emergency Department for the last four years. This year I’ll be working on Christmas Day from 7am to 8pm. My husband works shifts as well and we have two teenage children. When they were little it was heart-breaking having to leave them to work at Christmas.
I always think about the people who are in hospital and who don’t have any family. It’s nice to be able to care for people who have to be here at Christmas. We just work as a team and try to look after each other. Even if it’s a busy shift I still try to support the festive spirit. We focus on the job and make sure patients are seen in a timely manner. I work with all of the staff to get patients to where they need to be in the hospital. I do enjoy working here. It’s a fast-paced environment and I like that.
I have family coming over on Christmas evening so we’ll play some board games with the kids – just have fun. I won’t be having Christmas dinner at home. I’ve already had mine at the hospital thanks to our great catering team!
Danislava Petrova, Clinical Support Worker, Furness General Hospital
I’m from Bulgaria and I’ve been in Barrow for 12 years. I’ve been working at the hospital for five years and I love it!
I have worked at Christmas and New Year before. It’s always quite busy and there is a lovely festive atmosphere. It’s very homely and nice. We bring food in – everyone brings different things. We’re like a big family. My partner is also working on Christmas morning.
My job is to look after patients. I help the nurses and doctors with everything they need including taking patients for x-rays, CT scans, taking bloods, doing ECGs and taking them to the wards.
My aunty is over from Bulgaria so she will be with my 11-year-old daughter. I’ll spend time with them later in the day. I am very proud to be part of the Emergency Department family and to work with such a great team.
Sandra Shaw, Kitchen Supervisor, Furness General Hospital
There’s always a nice atmosphere in the kitchen and the restaurant on Christmas Day – it’s a jolly atmosphere. On Christmas Day the restaurant is open until 1pm and we get people from the local community coming in for their dinner.
We used to have an elderly couple who lived nearby who didn’t have anyone so they used to come here every single day including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. I’ve worked here for 18 years and I have never really minded working on Christmas Day. My son will go to his girlfriend’s house. I never feel like having a Christmas Dinner – an egg and ham bap will do me just fine!
Joanne Low, Head Chef, Furness General Hospital
Joanne Low and Sandra Shaw (right)
There’s always a good team effort on Christmas Day. We’ll have five chefs, one supervisor and seven catering staff working from 7am on Christmas Day. There’s a nice atmosphere between the catering staff and clinical staff.
I’ve worked here for 13 years and I love Christmas. We do get people who come here for dinner and they don’t have anybody. There’s an old man who comes in most days so he might be here for Christmas Dinner. We try to make it a home from home for people. We want it to be nice for them – for them to have a bit of normality.
We make all of the Christmas dinners for patients as well. We make a big effort to make it special for them and they do appreciate it.
Deacon Deborah Wilde, Chaplain, Furness General Hospital
Deacon Deborah Wilde
For the past 14 years I have been in the hospitals here in Barrow and Oxford during the Christmas to New Year period. Although it is an incredibly busy time when staff are often stretched to their limits, it is also a time when the impact of dedicated care and commitment to others becomes very real. The true spirit of NHS care at the heart of our community is very tangible.
For many people in hospital over Christmas or caring for someone here, it is a very difficult period. We hope that our Chaplaincy Team can be there for everyone and at the heart of a hospital delivering professional but compassionate service at such a special time.
Christmas and the New Year periods present the annual challenges of acute staff shortages, people needing time with their own families, a rise in sickness and often the really sad stories that arise. Many of our staff are away from home over Christmas and for many of our patients also there can be a sense of loneliness and isolation when it appears the rest of the world is celebrating. For this reason, this year, amongst our other services we are having a ‘Blue Christmas Service’ on the 21st of December at 7pm – a quieter, reflective service that recognises that, for some, Christmas may be a time of struggles, loss and loneliness.
As a Chaplaincy Team we run a 24/7 service so that we can be available for emergencies around the clock. We have a fantastic team of local clergy and faith contacts that support us but that also reflects the commitment and understanding of our families.
Personally, I have always been so grateful for family and friends who recognise that Christmas for clergy is a really busy (and wonderful) time of the year. Having said that, when we take time off I hope we can all find time to be with those who love us and who remind us of the joy that’s at the heart of Christmas. I’ll certainly be playing party games, going to midnight mass and eating mince-pies!
Our Chaplaincy Team in a large trust like UHMBT always expects the unexpected, particularly at Christmas. The joys, the hopes, the sadness and pain of those we care for though are all part of our revisiting what Christians believe are central themes to the Christmas story.