During Dying Matters Awareness Week, the palliative care team at the RUH in Bath is encouraging families to talk about and plan for supporting loved ones nearing the end of life.
The RUH Trust is asking families to think about what is important to them at the end, to talk about it and to plan for it, so that they are better prepared to support each other.
The focus of Dying Matters Week 2021 is the importance of being in a good place to die.
Recent years have seen a change in where people die, with more people dying at home and out of hospital.
Helen Meehan, RUH Lead Nurse for Palliative Care and End of Life, said: “There is no right or wrong place to die – it will be different for everyone.
“But it is important for families to think about it, to talk about it and to plan for it. We want people of all ages to be in a good place when they die – physically, emotionally and with the right care in place.
“Getting there means having some important conversations about what matters to the individual and their family in relation to end of life care, dying and bereavement.
“Not many of us express a wish for where we might die, many of us would wish to be at home if asked, but for many it is hospital where people are cared for in the last days of life.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought so many challenges – especially caring for those at the end for life and their families, but we have such a responsibility for ensuring that we provide compassionate, supportive and dignified care at this time.”
End of life care at the RUH, which has been rated “outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission, is supported by the RUH’s charity The Forever Friends Appeal.
It has recently funded Memory Boxes supplied to every ward to help create special memories and keepsakes for patients nearing the end of their life and their families.
It also supplies Butterfly Fund bereavement bags, providing a sensitive way of returning personal belongings to family members.
Another initiative is the Compassionate Companion Service, in partnership with Dorothy
House Hospice Care and funded by the RUH’s charity, The Forever Friends Appeal with a grant from the Sperring Trust.
This service enables specially-trained volunteers to offer support, compassionate listening, comfort and companionship to patients in their last days of life at the hospital.
The RUH Chaplaincy team has helped to arrange marriages at short notice under a special license for patients nearing the end of life.
The palliative care team has also created special wedding boxes that contain bunting, fairy lights, ceramic hearts as a keepsake gift, flowers, bubbles and a wedding card, which the wards can request to support the marriage of a couple when time is precious.