16 November 2022

Gillian’ Story: Creating a brighter Christmas for patients, their families and staff

Tagged by

My name is Gillian MacLean, I’m a Senior Charge Nurse that works in the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

We are a large diverse and innovative Critical Care Unit with over 250 staff and admit around 2,000 patients a year from across Scotland. Within the 42 bedded multi-specialist unit we provide regional and national specialist care including neuroscience, vascular, interventional radiology, obstetrics, hepatobiliary, transplant, upper GI and emergency care. The Royal Infirmary is also a Major Trauma Centre supporting the South East of Scotland major trauma network.

My colleagues and I pride ourselves in teamwork and our patients are at the heart of everything we do. Winter is a busy time for the unit and annual leave over the festive period is limited to guarantee appropriate levels of care for our critically ill patients. When Christmas day comes we do our best to make it as festive as we can for patients, their families and staff that can’t be with their loved ones.

The ward area is subtly decorated to be sensitive to patients and families, but also for infection control purposes. On Christmas day we ensure we create a brighter Christmas for those who must work by hosting a Christmas breakfast and lunch in our staff areas. Our table is decorated with Christmas crackers and napkins, and we have fun dressing up the consultants in fun, festive costumes. We like to host a Christmas quiz and try to recreate the at home experience the best we can. The patients all receive a small gift and there is usually a festive treat or two for the staff too!

Many of our staff won’t see their family at all over the festive period, so it is important to try and keep spirits up. When you work in a hospital environment your team becomes like family, so we create festive cheer and make happy memories for all.


Your donation will go a long way to making Christmas special for someone who is spending it in hospital.

NHS Lothian staff stood together smiling at the camera wearing Santa hats, reindeer antlers and elf headbands.

Find out how generous donations from our supporters have helped to make Christmas special for patients and families:

Leza, Senior Charge Nurse at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People smiling at the camera stood in front of a balloon arch

Leza’s story: Creating an extra-special Christmas for children too unwell to go home

My name is Leza Buchanan, I’m a Senior Charge Nurse who has spent 20 Christmases working in the Paediatric Critical […]

Read more
NHS Lothian staff stood by the entrance to the special care baby unit at St Johns. On the door is says "Baby Elves Only"

Vhari’s Story: Making the ward feel less like a hospital for the festive season

My name is Vhari Carr, I’m a Senior Charge Midwife that manages the Special Care Babies Unit at St John’s […]

Read more
5 members of NHS staff sat outside the Vascular Surgery ward at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh dressed up as elves and Santa.

Lorraine and Therese’s Story: helping to bring festive joy, and creating a brighter Christmas for everyone

We are Lorraine, an NHS Lothian Ward Clerk, and Therese, a Charge Nurse, work in the Vascular Surgery ward at […]

Read more

Michelle’s Story – Giving Patients a Christmas like at Home

My name is Michelle Robertson, and I am a charge nurse at East Lothian Community Hospital. We care for patients […]

Read more
NHS Lothian nurse standing beside a bundle of wrapped Christmas presents

Tricia’s Story – Caring For Mums At Christmas

My name is Tricia Breslin, and I work at the St John’s Mental Health Mother and Baby Unit in Livingston. […]

Read more

Jenny’s Story – How A Small Gift Can Have A Big Impact

My name is Jenny Pewsey, and I am a former patient of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. While I was studying […]

Read more
7 members of NHS Lothian staff from the Labour Ward at St Johns smiling at the camera dressed as elves with Santa

Kirsty’s Story: Bringing joy to mums and babies

My name is Kirsty Jackson, I’m a Senior Charge Midwife that manages the Labour wards at St John’s Hospital in […]

Read more
Rachael from the Research Department at RHCYP sat on a bed smiling

Rachael’s story: Spreading festive cheer to seriously ill children and young people

My name is Rachael, I’m a Clinical Support Worker at the Research Department at the Royal Hospital for Children and […]

Read more
Ros, with her first child, Scott.

Ros, and baby Scott’s story – How a small act of kindness made a big difference

My name is Ros, and I am an ex-patient of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. I was 31 weeks pregnant […]

Read more
Lorna Forsyth and her daughters meeting Santa during the annual FACE visit to Lapland at Christmas to support families who have been impacted by cancer

Lorna’s Story – Supporting Families Impacted By Cancer

Fighting Against Cancer Edinburgh (FACE) is one of our cancer funds based at the Edinburgh Cancer Centre of the Western […]

Read more