Nursing and domestic staff at Inver House Intermediate Care Unit are working hard to make it a merry Christmas for patients staying in hospital.
The unit, which provides rehabilitation and palliative care, will be the only part of the Moyle Hospital open on Christmas day.
On the day, a total of 15 nurses and four domestic staff will be working, rotating over the course of four shifts to ensure everyone gets to spend time with their families.
For some nurses, this will not be the first time they have worked on the ward at Christmas. Staff nurse Kathleen Adams has worked for most of her 37 years at the unit, while Support service supervisor Esther McAllister has worked around 22 out of her 24 years there.
Esther told The Times: “I have worked nearly every Christmas I’ve been here. When you sign up to the health service you accept it. We try to make it really nice with a fun family atmosphere and to make Christmas more special so everyone enjoys it.
“We would wear Christmas hats and Santa aprons and the Salvation Army would come in and sing carols.”
Kathleen commented: “Working on Christmas day goes with the job. There is a beautiful Christmas dinner, and the staff would go around singing Christmas songs. There’s a great camaraderie between staff and patients.”
In addition to the Salvation Army, Inver House patients have already been visited by Santa Claus as well as Mayor of Larne Martin Wilson.
Healthcare Support worker Sharon Robinson added: “In the evening there are finger foods and party foods for them to enjoy, but not turkey sandwiches!”
Esther says that for staff, many of whom have worked alongside each other for years, working on Christmas day is like sharing Christmas with two families. She continued: “We are all friends and have good relationships. There is a job to do and everybody gets on and does it, but we do it with more gusto on Christmas day! The patients enjoy the company of other patients and staff.”
Working on Christmas day means the nurses’ families postpone Christmas dinner and present opening until their arrival, but Esther says their families are now “well-trained” in the day’s routine.
Kathleen continued: “It would be stranger if we weren’t working at Christmas as your routine, shopping and everything else is planned around it.”
Paying tribute to the staff, ward sister Carol Ferguson stated: “The all work hard on Christmas day and try to make it as nice as possible for the patients. The staff can go home but the patients can’t. I would like to thank the staff for working Christmas day and wish them a good Christmas.”