Like hundreds of our team across our Trust, Rachel Stephens will be working this Christmas Day by the sides of the children, young people and families she cares for on Ward 5 at our Children’s Hospital. Being in on the ‘big day’ isn’t anything new for Rachel. In fact this will be the 10th time she’s been on shift during her career. She explains why it’s a special time on the ward.
What does a typical Christmas Day on shift consist of?
In some ways it’s like any other day. We do our handover, I go and meet our patients and families and doctors will be doing their ward rounds. However, it’s also Christmas Day so we do lots of things to make it fun. I do think the staff can get more excited than the children sometimes. We aim to make the atmosphere as nice as it can be.
All the children get presents, which is so lovely. I’ve done night shifts previously and we make sure we help Santa to deliver the gifts to the bottom of the beds so they have something to wake up to in the morning That’s really nice. You go back to being a child yourself in many ways; spending time playing with the toys that patients have had.
Does your team have chance to take some time to celebrate?
Obviously, it’s a bit different. We’ll bring in bits of food and we do things like Secret Santa. Everyone likes being here. It’s never a hardship. We know as a career it’s a job means we’ll be working over the festive period but it’s so rewarding.
Will you get time with your family and friends?
I’ll go back home to my parents after I’ve finished my shift. So that means they will have to wait to have their Christmas dinner. I will see the rest of my family on Boxing Day. They all know I work and they all understand. It’s never been an issue.
Being at work does get me out of the washing up at the end of the day.
How would you sum up being a nurse on Christmas Day?
I love it. You tell people you’re working on Christmas Day and sometimes they say, ‘oh that’s a shame.’ It’s really not. It’s such a rewarding job. You see the children with their presents. We know it’s difficult but we do all we can to make the experience as positive as it can be. Being in hospital does still mean Christmas can be as nice and memorable as possible.