06 November 2017

New project to improve end of life and bereavement care

New project to improve end of life and bereavement care

Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) has launched a new initiative to support patients in their last days of life.

The Swan project sees a swan symbol used across our hospitals to represent end of life and bereavement care, acting as a reminder to all staff to pay extra attention to patients, as well as their families and friends, at their greatest time of need.

Sarah Freer, Lead Nurse for Palliative and End of Life care, said: "Swan starts from the minute the patient and the family enter our hospitals, from the moment the receptionist greets them at the front desk to when the porter transfers them to the ward. It will allow staff to be more aware of what these people are going through and is about opening the door or putting your head behind the curtain and asking 'is there anything else I can do for you?'."

With support from Nottingham Hospitals Charity, who have helped fund the Swan initiative, staff across the Trust now have access to the items that can help make positive memories, including 'memory bags' for patients' property, replacing the traditional plastic bags. Families are also encouraged to take locks of hair, hand prints and spend close family time together before bereavement.

Sarah added: "The initiative allows us to influence the bereavement experience of those that leave our care. It provides staff with the permission to break the rules that don't exist, such as offering families food from the dinner trolley when they are sitting by the bedside or finding ways to allow patients to spend their last days creating positive memories. It might be giving them access to things that are personal to them such as their pets, having flowers by their beds or drinking their favourite drink. It also creates opportunities to have conversations around tissue donation if this is something they are considering."

At NUH there are End of Life Care Champions on every ward and last week the Palliative care team and colleagues, visited a different division every day sharing the Swan initiative and distributing materials, the team engaged with over 300 staff members across QMC and City Hospital.

Daljit Athwal, Deputy Chief Nurse at Nottingham University Hospitals, said: "Swan makes end of life care more visible and it gives permission for staff to provide care tailored to the individual's and family's needs. It also says that end of life care is everybody's business, it doesn't matter who you are.

"At NUH the Swan approach to care will empower staff at all levels of the organisation to be involved from nurses to porters, reception staff to clinicians. Swan is about talking to the family and finding out what they want to do to help their loved ones, as long as it's safe, we can try and accommodate to their needs."

Nottingham Hospitals Charity's Director of Business Development, Nigel Gregory said: "Helping patients in their last days, and their families, is a very personal and important thing to do and we are tremendously proud to be supporting SWAN, with many charity initiatives focusing on funding new equipment or research we are supporting SWAN because we know it will leave a lasting legacy with the patients and families it touches."

We have also launched our Swan end of life care video which is being shared with staff across the Trust, watch this here: http://bit.ly/2h2nrrf

Anyone wanting to support Nottingham Hospitals Charity can go to www.nottinghamhospitalscharity.org.uk or @NottinghamHospitalsCharity on Facebook.

NHS Nottingham University Hospitals
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