A care home nurse is looking forward to celebrating Christmas twice this year.
Nisha Thomas will enjoy a traditional celebration with her family on Christmas Eve and then she gets to do it all over again with her “second family“, the residents who she looks after at the 40-bedroom Plasgeller care home at Brynmawr, Ebbw Vale.
Plasgeller is part of the Caron group, a specialist provider of residential, nursing and dementia care, operating 14 care homes across mid and south Wales.
Mum of three, Nisha has worked at the home for nearly 16 years and for most of them she has volunteered to work Christmas Day.
She says she never hesitates for one moment when asked to spend one of the most special days of the year at work.
She says: “Working Christmas Day is really not a chore for me. Quite the opposite, I love it.
“I consider myself very lucky to be able to have two Christmas celebrations each year.
“I always have a traditional meal and heartwarming get together with my family on Christmas Eve. Then on December 25 I have the pleasure of seeing the residents I’ve cared for all year enjoy this special time.
“It’s so great to see the joy on their faces as they open presents, delight in their relatives and friends visiting and join in the day’s festivities like Christmas lunch and singing Christmas carols.
“We also have to remember that some of our residents either don’t have immediate families or they live far away or are unable to visit, so it is important that we are here for them too.
“We want them to know we enjoy spending time with them whatever day of the year it is, that they are in our hearts, and we are all one big family here at Plasgeller.”
A committed Christian, Nisha and her family always attend the festive service at All Saints Church, Ebbw Vale, on Christmas Eve, and then enjoy time together at home in Ebbw Vale. Nisha lives just a couple of miles away from Plasgeller.
She said: “My sister and brother-in-law and all our families come along to our house and we have a lovely Christmas Eve together with a meal and relish the chance to make and share happy memories.
“Everyone accepts that I have to work Christmas Day and is completely understanding of it.“
The idea of working Christmas Day is nothing out of the ordinary in Nisha’s household as she has done it for so many years. And this year her husband Aji Jose, is also working December 25 at Plasgeller Care Home.
Nisha said: “He is a nursing assistant here and, like me, he is happy to work Christmas Day.”
But the two will not see much of each other.
“I work days – 8am to 8pm – and Aji does the night shift so we will be a little like ships passing in the night,” laughed Nisha.
Their three daughters, twins Nia and Nila, aged 16, and Aimee, aged 13, are also fully behind their decision.
Nisha said: “The twins both hope to go into nursing careers and they have been doing work experience at Plasgeller so they fully understand the reasons why we choose to work.
“After all, Christmas is about giving and this is one of the best ways we know to give back to the community where we live.”
Mario Kreft MBE, the chair of Care Forum Wales, paid tribute to Nisha and everybody else who will be working in the social care sector over the festive period.
He said: “Nisha and all the people like her are the unsung heroes and heroines of social care who often go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the people for whom they provide care receive the best possible service.
“This dedication is all the more evident at this time of year when the staff in care homes and those working in domiciliary care embody the true spirit of Christmas.
“Christmas Day is the one day in the year when people make a special effort to be with their loved ones and it is the measure of our wonderful workforce that so many of them spend this precious time caring for other people.”