Senior staff night nurse Sue White explains what it is like working at St Catherine's Hospice overnight.
"Overnight, a team of nurses work on the Crawley inpatient unit, continuing the care that our day colleagues have been giving. We are there to give care to those who sleep, and to those for whom sleep does not come so easily.
"During the day, many patients have the company of family and friends visiting, bringing them comfort and reassurance. But at night-time, as the day's natural activities slow down and come to a close – and most visitors leave – we are there to help patients feel safe, settled and as comfortable as possible, to aid good periods of sleep.
"When people are less well, changes in their sleep pattern are not uncommon and their need for care and symptom control still continues through the night. Night-time can bring heightened anxiety for our patients; people fear dying in their sleep, and they are sometimes more aware of their pain and symptoms in the quieter and dimmed night atmosphere.
"We understand these anxieties and give individual care and support when a patient is finding the night difficult. Simply sitting with someone by their bed can bring them relief and reassurance.
"Family members or friends often stay when their relative is becoming more poorly or dying and they are always made to feel welcome. We offer them support and help them to get some rest too. We have recliner chairs by patients' bedsides and there is a relatives' room on each ward with pull-out sofa beds. A while ago we were able to put two beds together so that a lady could lie next to her husband in the days before he died, allowing the couple extra closeness at such an important time.
"As well as giving care to patients staying on our inpatient unit, we are also there to provide telephone support to our community patients who ring in for help and advice overnight. It is often the reassurance of being able to talk to someone in the middle of the night that can make a real difference to people.
"Every patient has their own individual needs and we always respect and respond to these, to ensure that St Catherine's provides high quality, round the clock care – it is a privilege to give it."
Originally published on ehospice: St Catherine’s Hospice at night