Working the wards on Christmas Day

Jordan Benstead, a Senior Staff Nurse on Fox Ward, loves working at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) at Christmas time. She helps to arrange games, music and visits from celebrities to help the children on the ward, and their families, feel more festive.

“It’s such a special day and a real privilege to come in and look after the children,” Jordan says.

Jordan qualified as a nurse in 2014 and moved from Yorkshire to London to work at GOSH. She spent a year working in Ireland, but came back to GOSH as she loves the hospital so much!

"I’m in a more senior role now and work on the bone marrow transplant unit. On my ward the children are in for months at a time – the ward is like a family.

Children on Fox Ward who are undergoing bone marrow transplant have a weakened immune system so are nursed in strict isolation to prevent them catching any infections. They’re able to have three visitors for the duration of their stay but no siblings, because of infection. Siblings can only wave through the window.

Giving the ward “a Christmassy feel”

Even given these restrictive rules, Jordan and the rest of the ward team like to help their patients feel as festive as possible.

“We decorate the ward and the rooms from the outside to give it a Christmassy feel,” she explains.

"We do everything we can to try and get the children home for Christmas so the ones who are in the hospital on Christmas Day really are the most poorly.

“There is so much which goes on at the hospital over the festive period to make it special for the children and their families. There are games, music, events, visits from celebrities and even Peppa Pig has been on the ward! We have a fantastic play team who do activities with the children and we’re lucky to have the support of the charity especially at this time of year."

Peppa Pig visited the hospital in 2015

Christmas Day routine

“On Christmas Day I leave the house at 6am for work and don’t usually go home until around 8.30pm so it is definitely a long day!” Jordan says.

“My family are very supportive, and we usually celebrate Christmas and have our turkey dinner on another day when we can all be together.

“Normal people ‘break up’ for Christmas holidays, something which definitely doesn’t apply to us nurses! We have such a great team though, it feels like spending Christmas with your best friends on the ward, we all dress up and the children get presents – it’s so lovely.

“On Christmas morning, we are allocated our patients and the staff who have been on night shifts on Christmas Eve would have helped to hang out the stockings for each patient, ready for their visit from Santa.

“We make it feel as much like Christmas as possible, it’s the one day families can try and forget about how sick their child is as this takes a back step, it’s all about bringing the magic of Christmas to the patients and to the wards.

“On Christmas Day we have lots of volunteers who give up their time to come into the hospital which is so heart-warming. We have a visit from Santa and his elves, everyone gets a Christmas lunch and the atmosphere is really positive. 

“It’s so nice going home on Christmas night knowing you’ve been with the patients and their families all day, it’s such a rewarding feeling and I’m incredibly lucky to share this time with them.”