Today is World Smile Day, and at St Catherine’s Hospice, our wonderful nursing and clinical staff try their hardest every day to bring smiles to our patients and their relatives. When times are tough and you’re facing death and loss, smiling doesn’t come easy but sometimes, it’s the little gestures that make the biggest difference.
Andrew, our Senior Staff Nurse, shares a story this World Smile Day of how he brought a little happiness to one of his patients:
“One lady I cared for was a young mother with teenage children. Caring for her affected me deeply. We had a tremendous relationship during her time on the ward. She’d have a lot of days where she’d feel very upset, angry, or frightened about the future, and the fact that she’d have to say goodbye to her children. The two of us used to chat about how we were both feeling and how our days were going. She was always open with me and used to say, ‘”It’s awful.” I knew it was so I’d tell her how sorry I was that I couldn’t take things away. I did think of something I could do to try and cheer her up though.
Whenever I took her medication to her, I’d unfold the waxed cups her pills came in, and draw a smiley face on them. If she was having a bad day, I’d draw a sad face, with a line going down on one side. If she was feeling cross, I’d draw a frustrated face. I tried to draw a face match her mood. To make her laugh, but also to say I’m with you. Those silly doodles never failed to make her smile. To see her mood brighten meant the world to me.
What I didn’t realise was that this particular patient was keeping each and every cup with my drawings on. When she died, her sister discovered them. She found me and told me she will always keep the smiley faces as a special memory and thanked me for drawing them.”
To all of our staff and volunteers who bring a smile to patients and relative faces, we thank you so much.