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Elena has been working as a hospital nanny for ten years. She is 48 years old, her voice is young and cheerful.

“My educational background relates to pre-school teaching. For a long time I was a social worker in a shelter, I enjoy working with children. Now I work in an infectious deceases department. Children who are admitted here are between 0 and 18 years old. These are the children without parental guardianship. Some children are here for a week but some stay for a month. Sometimes we take care of children who need an explanation on what a spoon or a mug is. We show them that they need to sleep in a bed. They just come from very specific families. When I was trying to put some of them to bed they started crying and shouting. We had three children like this who stayed for a week. But these children are very grateful, they learn quickly. They get attached to you very quickly” says Elena.

She thinks that it is very important to create a home atmosphere in the hospital ward and to teach children to follow their very own routine. “My workday starts at 8am. We wake the children up, teach them how to brush their teeth. For some of them hygiene is not something they are aware of. For example, some children eat their toothpaste because it is tasty. They see a toothbrush for the first time in their life. Then we attend tests and treatments together. We go for a walk, draw, ride bikes like in a nursery. If the weather is not nice we stay inside and develop fine motor skills – we draw, do puzzles and play dough. We work on writing, maths and reading skills with older children. We watch those cartoons that allow children to learn and develop. Then we have lunch and nap. During the last ten years all the hospital staff has been working very hard to create this home-like atmosphere. These children are my children, hospital nurses are like their parents. The atmosphere in our hospital is much more beneficial for children like them.”

“You know, I worked in a shelter for 17 years. I learnt that everything should work like at home. Many children from orphanages do not know how to make their own decisions. We teach them to be independent. For example, we teach children from the age of ten to do their laundry themselves. Even though they may not necessarily succeed straight away, it is important to learn and gain confidence. They will of course improve their skills in the future and my job is to help them with this. These children are very grateful, they want to learn and do it well.”