This Christmas, our Deputy Inpatient Unit Sister at Coventry Myton Hospice, Karen O’Shea, describes what Christmas is like at Myton…

“Christmas at Myton is so very special; the scene is set with the most beautiful Christmas trees and decorations bringing flickers of sparkle to the ward.  The atmosphere early on Christmas morning is calm and peaceful.  As the day begins to break, the sunlight thaws the morning frost revealing the faces of interesting and unique people, eager to honour us with tales of their lives, hopes and sorrows.

The poignancy of being poorly on this day is particularly powerful, especially when considering the enormity of the situation facing some.  It is in this instance that we feel even more proud to work at Myton and a time to acknowledge that we are truly privileged to be involved in these moments of others’ lives.

You may expect the ward to be sombre but as festive carols ring out you will regularly hear the tinkle of laughter as both patients and staff enjoy the warmth of Christmas together.  Families will come and visit relatives, each offering comfort and kindness in their own distinctive way, and in the essence of giving say thank you to staff, often in the shape of a box of chocolates.  Even in the absence of mistletoe there is a feeling of affection; we give and receive kisses, hugs and good wishes, as a joint expression of understanding.  Christmas on the ward brings out the very best of the human spirit. We all join together to create a special, memorable day which, when achieved, offers us the very special gift of personal fulfilment.

While Christmas is traditionally a time for families to get together and celebrate, it is also a moment of reflection for those of us who work over the Christmas period.  It may seem hard to justify leaving our own families behind in order to look after patients but after providing care, compassion and company on this touching day, it is encouraging to know that despite how seasoned we may have become through our years at Myton, we can still feel humble in the presence of such wonderfully courageous people.  We continue to see and hear things that alter our beliefs, challenge our emotions, reinforce our commitment and serve to remind us that our own worries are trivial by comparison.

The reason we work over Christmas isn’t purely because our job rewards us with such a warming sense of accomplishment, we do it because we love it.”