Gerri (right) with Day Hospice Volunteer Angela Follows.
Gerri Garrott has worked as a Nursing Assistant in Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice’s Day Hospice for two years. She loves her job and the people and patients she works with. In this blog post, Gerri opens the doors to the Day Hospice at Christmas, giving an insight into the activities that take place over the festive season.
We hold day sessions on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, so have three days of Christmas in the Day Hospice at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court. That’s three servings of Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.
We sit around the dining table with patients, pull crackers and wear paper hats. Our patients might choose to have wine, beer or a Christmas sherry with their meal.
We play Christmas music too. Often we have special choir performances. One year we had a string quartet come in to perform Christmas Carols, which was wonderful.
The Day Hospice has a Christmas Tree and is fully decorated for the festive season.
We want to make our Day Hospice a home from home for our patients. There is always lots of laughter here, especially at Christmas.
A warm welcome
You'll often see me out on the roads of Gloucestershire in the Sue Ryder minibus, helping to collect and support patients as they travel to and from the Day Hospice.
When patients first walk through the door, I greet them, make them a cup of tea and we have a good old chinwag about how their past week has been.
Year round, there are lots of activities on offer for patients to enjoy, and part of my role is organising these. I've arranged animal visits – we've had barn owls and farm animals, including goats and baby chicks, too. It is always wonderful to see the smiles they bring to everyone’s faces.
We do all sorts in the Day Hospice – quizzes, baking, we sit and play games, and hold fancy dress days.
We help people do what makes them happy
One patient said she'd always wanted to go to the Last Night at the Proms so we brought the Proms to her. Everyone in the Day Hospice dressed up, we had Union Jack Flags and we sat around in the sunny conservatory listening and singing along to Prom recordings.
Another patient mentioned to one of our volunteers that they wished they could go to Cheltenham Races, so we had a special race day in the Day Hospice. I came in dressed up as a jockey on a horse. There was much fun and laughter that day.
Quality time to build relationships with patients
Sometimes people come in and they want to relax and be quiet. We offer them this space and sanctuary too. The care we give is tailored directly to what our patients want.
I've worked as Nursing Assistant for many years and I love it here. Here, I have time to sit down and give quality one-to-one time to our patients and this is so important. I've learned a special massage called the M-technique that allows me time to sit down and massage patients’ feet or hands while we talk.
I have the time to take patients for a walk or a wheel about in their wheelchair in the hospice’s stunning grounds. For some of our patients, this may be the only time they're able to get outdoors. It’s really special to help them get outside and enjoy the peace and tranquillity here.
I also love seeing special relationships being made in the Day Hospice. One patient asked if I would sit and write letters with her to her family for them to have when she was no longer here. It was very emotional; I felt privileged that she felt safe enough to sit and do this with me.
As a team do all they can to support and care for their patients.
“We have a special questionnaire tool called a ‘distress thermometer’. It helps us measure how patients are feeling. Sometimes we sit and go through this so we can see exactly where we can help.
We have helped address a number of worries and concerns for our patients by using this tool – some that would not often be picked up. I remember one patient was really worried that his partner had not had a holiday in a long time as she was so busy caring for him. We helped arrange a donation that paid for carers for him so his partner could enjoy a short holiday with her daughter.
We know we've made a difference when patients tell us we've helped them or we simply see the smiles on their faces. Some people are scared of coming to the hospice as they don’t know what to expect, but when they come here you can see them relax and enjoy their time with us.
A message for Sue Ryder supporters
The care that I and the rest of the Day Hospice team give would not be possible without the fundraising support of the very community the hospice is here to care for.
Sue Ryder supporters: if it was not for you, we could not do this. Without your donations, without your support or your volunteering we would not be able to provide this service.
A simple thank you is not enough. I can’t thank you enough for all that you do for us, especially our wonderful Day Hospice volunteers who always give and help us so much.
£18 could pay for an hour of care to support people in our Day Hospice enjoy Christmas.
Donate to our Christmas Appeal