“Compassion should be at the heart of this.”
These are the poignant words spoken by NHS staff as they reveal improvements made to end of life and bereavement care at local hospitals.
We understand we have one chance to get things right at this very difficult time. And we want to get things right every timeELHT chief nurse Christine Pearson
Burnley and Pendle patients are to benefit from a dedicated bereavement care suite at Burnley General Hospital and Royal Blackburn Hospital.
More education is also being provided to front line staff, improved security equipment has been bought to protect the personal belongings of deceased patients and comfort bags of toiletries will be on offer for relatives staying with a loved one who is dying.
And, at Royal Blackburn Hospital, services and facilities have been expanded to provide a coroner’s on-site service, an on-site registration of death service and improved mortuary viewing room.
East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has spent a year working with hospital staff, bereavement experts, local hospices and other hospitals to improve bereavement care.
Full-time bereavement care senior nurse Erin Bolton, appointed as part of the new strategy, said: “Part of my role when I was first employed was to scope the organisation and look at what we do do well. One of the things I found underpinned everything ... was the compassion of the staff shone through, and I wanted to build on that. Compassion should be at the heart of this.”
And ELHT chief nurse Christine Pearson added: “We understand we have one chance to get things right at this very difficult time. And we want to get things right every time.
“Bereavement care is now very much a priority and the improvements made in recent months have a single purpose: to offer better facilities and support for family members and loved ones after the death of someone close.”
A special launch event was held at Royal Blackburn Hospital, which saw speeches by frontline hospital staff. These included chaplaincy staff, palliative care specialist nurses, bereaved relatives and carers.
Particularly moving was a talk from ward sister Jemma Gallagher, who shared an account of a time one patient’s experience went wrong, and how the Trust has learnt from that mistake. And a caring and compassionate account by porter John Jackson was enough to move some to tears.
Year 9 students from Blackburn Central High School also told how they were inspired to design and create the comfort bags containing toiletries for use by people who choose to stay in hospital to be close to a family member of friend at the end of their life.
In January, ELHT introduced new End of Life guidelines for staff caring for dying people. Based on 5 Priorities for Care, the guidance emphasises the needs and wishes of the dying person and those close to them.