The festive period, as well as being a time of religious significance for some, tends to be a time spent with family, focussing on the good things the year has brought and exchanging gifts.

For those who are in hospital over Christmas, it is not always possible to celebrate in the way you might normally do so. Patients in our wards across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire may feel more lonely or isolated at this time of year and may express sadness at the thought of not being with their families.

Every year, Oxford Health Charity provides funding to each ward to ensure that patients who will be staying with us over Christmas are able to receive a present and enjoy some festive food. The funding comes from donations and fundraising by patients, their families, carers and staff aimed at enhancing the experience of patients across the Trust. We are always really happy to be able to fund this tradition each year and also welcome funding requests from wards who have patients celebrating other religious holidays throughout the year.

This year, we have also been able to bring some song and dance to the Community Hospital wards with the amazing Mary-Lou RevueDespite the measures needed to ensure infection control protections were in place, the team were welcomed by all and really made a difference to the run up to Christmas for those on the wards.  The feedback from one of the teams visited was 'The patients loved it! Seeing the patients smiling and dancing along made me happy.'

Here are some comments from our happy teams helped!

Libby Pannett-Smith, Occupational Therapist at one of our CAMHS wards in Marlborough House, Swindon said: “We are so grateful for the acknowledgment we receive from the Oxford Health charity at Christmas time. It can be a really tough time of the year for the young people on the unit and to be able to be able to buy them a gift can make such a difference. We usually make this an afternoon activity with Father Christmas giving out the presents and we play some Christmas themed games. I know the staff too, really value the festive food donation – it really makes a difference and helps everyone feel valued and appreciated for the work they do. Such a positive boost for all – thank you.”

Sandra Diesel, Occupational Therapist at Sandford Ward who care for older adult patients  said: “‘Each year we are very grateful to be given some charity funds to enable us to plan some festive activities and buy each patient a Christmas present. The presents tend to include some toiletries, a chocolate treat and an activity book we hope they will enjoy such as mindful colouring, sudoku or word searches. Before Christmas we also have a Christingle service with lots of traditional festive nibbles afterwards, and we have a festive brunch with all the extras every year which is enjoyed by staff and patients on Boxing Day.

Julie Pink, our Head of Charity and Involvement, said: “Oxford Health Charity is always seeking opportunities to enhance the experience of patients and this tradition brings small joys at a time when patients would definitely prefer to be home with their families. While we provide the funding thanks to kind donations and fundrasing, it is the teams on each ward who hand pick the gifts that deserve our thanks and really make the difference on a personal level”