Christmas on the children's ward

Abbi

Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Nursing and Midwifery
Course: BSc (Hons) Child Nursing
Category: Health

14 January 2019

Whilst many of us spend Christmas day by the lovely warm fireplace, opening lots of presents and smelling the turkey cooking in the oven, hundreds of children and young people face being in hospital. They battle a range of complex illnesses and new challenges, while trying to spend the most important time of the year with their families.

This Christmas period, I was placed on a general children's ward, meaning I got to see exactly how staff are able to make the ward a more inviting place for children and young people to spend their Christmas. There were a number of ways staff did this including:

  • Decorations - throughout December, the team work very hard making and putting up numerous decorations. Some wards have a particular theme over Christmas, such as Disney or reindeers. They also encouraged children to make some decorations and we had a few Christmas trees around the ward meaning that children were able to put decorations on the trees themselves
  • Christmas activities - play specialists have a very important role at Christmas on the children's ward by organising lots of activities for children to do in the playroom, but also for children to do by their bedside (if they are unable to get to the playroom.) This year we had reindeer making, Christmas colouring and the children also helped make the wards very own chimney - to ensure that Santa would still be able to come and see them whilst they were in hospital.
  • Elf on the shelf - this year in particular the staff organised 'elf of the shelf' which has been a very popular idea. This meant that night staff were in charge of organising what the 'naughty elves' had been doing whilst the children were asleep.
  • Staff members - throughout Christmas, managers allowed their nurses to wear headbands, badges and lanyards that are Christmas themed and used Christmas themed pens, although staff have to be mindful of infection control policies when doing so. Also, staff were encouraged to put Christmas bed sheets on their patients' beds (if able to) to make their rooms look a little bit more Christmassy.
  • Entertainers - the ward invited numerous entertainers into the ward, some of whom are celebrities, who are able to go round and see the children. Some entertainers bring donations for the children, which means that children have a present from them. With this in mind, it is important that we are still abiding by infection control policies, so not all children are allowed visits from entertainers, or the entertainers must ensure that they are following protocol. We also invited Santa onto the ward; he gave the children a special present to open on Christmas day.
  • Christmas party - for those children who are long term patients or regular attenders at the hospital, the play specialists organise a Christmas party for which they all go into the playroom and enjoy some food, soft drinks and their families can go along too. It is a lovely way of families supporting each other and children finding others with similar conditions to themselves.
  • Every day 618 children and young people from across the UK arrive at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. This is just one hospital in the UK, meaning that millions more children and young people face the same challenge all around the world.

    Within this in mind, I feel it is incredibly important that as multi-disciplinary teams within hospitals we all work together and make the Christmas period as exciting as possible for the children and young people.

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