Julie Milner is a Staff Nurse who works as part of the Community Services team at St Barnabas Hospice. She has spent eight years working for St Barnabas and three Christmas Days visiting patients and families on what is often their last Christmas together.
Julie said, “Christmas can be a very tough time for patients and families living with a life-limiting or terminal illness. It also brings back memories of loved ones who are no longer here. Each year I support Lincolnshire patients at what could be their last Christmas. The aim is to offer the whole family a safety net of support, especially at such a difficult time of year. I want them to know they can pick up the phone and that we will be there for them.
“A lot of our patients wish to be at home with family and friends over the festive period. I remember working with an elderly lady who was in hospital and wanted nothing more than to be at home for her family Christmas dinner. She couldn’t eat, but it meant the world to spend Christmas Day sharing this meal with her children and grandchildren. We supported her with equipment and visits over Christmas, including on Christmas Day, so that she could spend this precious time with her family.
“This year we have a Christmas appeal where we are asking you to give the ‘Gift of Time’. The nurses and I have compiled a selection of Christmas wishes for time that you can help gift to our patients and their families. Please help us create lasting memories this Christmas. You could make the donation personally or donate on behalf of someone else as their Christmas present.
“Food is a big part of our Christmas celebrations at the Hospice. It’s really important that families can join their loved one to eat together. My mum received hospice care and when she was poorly my dad thought she needed a big plate of dinner. She couldn’t face it and my dad couldn’t understand why. She then went into a hospice and the nurses gave her a small side plate of food. I remember her saying “I can manage this.” She enjoyed her food more after going into the Hospice and this memory will always stick with me.
“If someone is unwell, they are often not able to cook. In the build-up to Christmas, our wonderful chefs make turkey dinners with all the trimmings, so families can come here to enjoy their Christmas meal instead. Sometimes our patients want something slightly different to eat for Christmas, but we always try to make their wish come true.
“Christmas dinner is one example of the ‘gifts,’ you can give as part of this appeal. To support our patients this Christmas and give the gift of time, visit www.stbarnabashospice.co.uk/time-to-care.”