Bringing festive cheer to patients

FOR MOST people, Christmas is a chance to spend time with your family.

But not everyone can be at home surrounded by their loved ones. Some people, such as those who make up our emergency services or armed forces, may be at work on Christmas Day while others may be spending the festive period in hospital.

It’s a difficult time to be away from home but the staff on the Spencer Ward at Buxton’s Cavendish Hospital go the extra mile to make it as special a time as possible for their patients.

The ward is given a festive makeover with a Christmas tree and decorations while the patients have been busy making Christmas cards to sell and have also enjoyed Christmas carols.

Senior Occupational Therapist Lorraine Turner said staff will always endeavour to try and enable to patients to go home for Christmas wherever possible. But discharging patients on the Spencer Ward is not a simple process. “We can’t just ring up Social Services on December 23 and say we want somebody to go home tomorrow. It’s got to be a planned discharge and these decisions have to be made very early,” she said.

“We’ve got to make sure any equipment they may need will be ready so we have to place the order beforehand to ensure it is in place.”

And for those patients who aren’t able to spend Christmas with their families, staff on the Spencer Ward make it as easy as possible for them to enjoy the festive period.

“We try to make it as normal as possible,” explained ward manager Jennifer Dalibey. “We’ll encourage families to take their loved ones out for the day if they are able to and relatives can also book to have a Christmas meal.”

Visiting times are also relaxed so families can spend more time together on the Spencer Ward.

But Christmas, as with other events throughout the year, is not always a time for celebrating for those patients on the ward, a 12-bed assessment ward for people over the age of 65 with a variety of mental health needs.

And helping people get back to their own homes involves working very closely with the patient’s family as well as a variety of other health professionals, as Lorraine added: “Where possible we like to get people back home with support in the community. That involves a lot of multi-disciplinary working.”

Patients can spend several weeks on the ward while being assessed but it’s not just their mental health that is considered.

“The multi-disciplinary team approach is important because all the assessments are holistic assessments looking at all aspects of a person. Sometimes somebody can present what appears to be predominantly a mental health condition but it might be that the underlying real problem is a physical one,” Jennifer commented.