Working over holiday period is rewarding for hospice nurses

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HUNDREDS of seriously ill patients have been able to remain at home with their families over the festive period, thanks to the Iain Rennie Hospice.

The Tring-based charity, which covers the Chilterns and Aylesbury Vale, has opened its doors to reveal the behind-the-scenes work that takes place over the festive period to support those with life-limiting illnesses.

Sue Varvel, the hospice’s director of nursing, said: “Providing round-the-clock care, 365 days of the year, has always been a crucial element of our work.

“And when someone is seriously ill, families will want to make Christmas a special time, and our nurses play a vital role in ensuring that can happen.

“We cannot change the outcome of someone’s illness, but we can make a huge difference by helping to control symptoms to improve their quality of life and give them valuable time with family and friends in the comfort and security of their home.”

Although most of the charity’s nurses will be working right through the Christmas holiday, the majority can now get a full night’s sleep thanks to a new night nursing team.

Ms Varvel said: “Earlier this year we trialled a different shift pattern.

“It meant nurses could take on more new patient referrals during an extended working day, up until 9pm, before handing over to a dedicated overnight team.

“The success of the trial, both in enabling us to care for more patients and in allowing nurses to take out-of-hours calls as part of their normal working shift, has led to this new system being adopted permanently.

“The new team work through the night to deal with all out-of-hours calls from patients and their carers, visiting them in their homes to support them as required.”

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve will be like any other day for the hospice’s nurses.

The team will make scheduled visits and be there to support families who need them during the day over the Christmas period.

They then hand over to the night nurses at 9pm.

In total, the hospice undertakes more than 1,000 hours of patient care during the 12 days of Christmas.

Ms Varvel describes the work the staff undertake as ‘rewarding’.

She said: “We do urge patients and carers to call us at any time they need us over the festive season.”

More details about the hospice can be found at