Marina is a hospice Healthcare Assistant. She's part of our Community Team who give care to patients in their own homes. Here, Marina shares her feelings about caring for people over Christmas.

Our job is to enable the patient to have their choice – to die at home, with their family. We have a lot of experience and knowledge of how to support people to manage their pain – because pain doesn’t take a break over Christmas.

We’ll visit up to four times a day if needed (Christmas Day too!) and we’ll check that the medication they have are still helping – and we’ll contact our nursing colleagues if someone needs some extra pain relief. We also provide personal care, help people with a wash and change their pad if they are incontinent – right to the end we make sure that the person has their dignity maintained and they are clean, dry and comfortable. Part of our job is to observe for any changes and concerns. We report these back to the clinical nurse specialist in the hospice; we’re like their eyes and ears our in the community every day.

We’re always providing support to family members too. We answer questions or address any concerns they have about what will happen next. We give advice and guidance on how they can help their loved ones. For example, when a person is near the end of their lives, although we are not medically trained, we can pick up on changes in patients. When their breathing changes, this is the sign the person might be approaching the end, and we’ll give practical advice on what need to happen when a loved one dies.

We get to know people, not just the patient

We are all professionals – but we often feel the emotion ourselves. We really get to know people, not just the patient, but their family as well and we keep a professional relationship with the families. We are human beings like anyone else, and, so, it’s hard when we lose them.

Christmas is special. I really don’t mind working Christmas Day. I consider it a privilege to be able go into people’s homes at Christmas and play a small part in their journey. We always make an extra effort, stay a little longer if needed, because we know this is going to be their last Christmas together with their family.

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