This Christmas, please help our patients and families across Lanarkshire get the compassionate care they need.

Hello, my name’s Gerry and I’m one of the Auxiliary Nurses at St Andrew’s Hospice. The festive season is just around the corner, so I hope you don’t mind me telling you a little bit about what Christmas is like here as we start preparing – and how, with your help, we can make it wonderful for everyone we care for. Because for many of our patients, this Christmas will be their last.

I’ve been working at the Hospice for 16 years now. And I must tell you, I love my job! I give personal care to our patients, talk to them, listen and help them with all their needs – whatever they need to feel a bit better in themselves. But, most importantly, I love having a bit of banter with the patients – cracking a few jokes and sharing laughs, things which take their mind off their illness for a minute or two.

But at Christmas, I become Santa Claus! (Shh, don’t tell anyone at the Hospice – I don’t want my cover to be blown!). I’ve been Santa on the wards for the last five years and it’s great! After I’ve carried out my nursing duties, I get into my festive get-up (big, bushy beard, glasses and all!) ready to visit the patients. I have a big red sack filled to the brim with prezzies – and of course I have two Christmas elves, each carrying a box of presents. We go into each bedroom ringing our Christmassy bells and give each patient a lovely gift.

Christmas time really is so special here. The whole Hospice is decorated with sparkly decorations and there are Christmas trees and decorations in each of our patients’ bedrooms – a special touch that makes them feel more at home. Even though it can be an emotional time of year, it never feels like doom and gloom – there’s always a happy atmosphere.

Last year, we gave each patient a Christmas Eve box, like a wee stocking, full of little bits and bobs they could open that night (we’d love to do that again this year!). And on the big day, we invite patients and their families to have a Christmas dinner, either at the table or in their beds if they prefer. It’s a big menu with choices of different starters, mains and puds – the food’s always delicious! There’s music and crackers and the patients sometimes bring a bottle of fizz. We’ve even got our own bar, so if someone wants a wee half, that’s no trouble.

For the patients that don’t have any family, that’s where we’ll spend time sitting, talking and pulling a cracker with them. And for patients that want to spend Christmas at home with their loved ones, we do everything we can to make it happen. We work closely with our NHS Community Nursing Team to ensure they have everything they need to be at home over Christmas and are always on hand to give additional support and advice if required.

As I’m sure you can imagine, the last two Christmases here were very different because of COVID. But this year, if all goes well, we’re really looking forward to inviting families and loved ones back in again. I can’t wait to see folks’ lovely faces – hopefully without the masks this year!

I hope I’ve helped to paint a picture of just how incredible a St Andrew’s Hospice Christmas can be. But of course, everything we need to make it special – the Christmas trees, food, drinks, decorations, presents, not to mention our expert nursing care for patients in the Hospice and in the community – all comes at a cost.

To give patients and their families the best possible care this winter – and the wonderful Christmas they deserve – we need your help.

A gift of £26.99 will pay for a Christmas tree and decorations for a patient’s bedroom this year. £58.40 will allow a patient and three of their family members to celebrate Christmas with a delicious Christmas dinner. £165 is enough to buy six Christmas Eve boxes/Christmas Day gifts containing special gifts for our patients. And an incredibly generous gift of £709.92 would help to fund a patient’s care on Christmas or Boxing Day. Any amount you can give would be so appreciated.

Click here to donate to our Christmas Care Appeal.

Thank you for everything you do for St Andrew’s Hospice – you really are marvellous.

A Blithe Yule and a Haud Hogmanay to you!