Published on Friday 13 May 2016
A new pilot to support patients in their final stages of life and their families is receiving positive feedback since being launched earlier this year.
Arrowe Park Hospital is trialling a Volunteer Companionship Service in several wards to provide company for patients close to the end of their life and offer support to their family or carers during a very difficult time.
The service is being delivered by existing hospital volunteers, who have been through a process to check their suitability and completed training delivered in partnership with Wirral Hospice St. John’s to help them undertake the role.
End of Life Care Transform Lead Nurse, Clare Brown explained:
“Our volunteers are all caring, compassionate and feel strongly about making a difference to people nearing the end of their lives. They can help in many ways, including signposting people to the appropriate members of staff and nearby facilities, making drinks for relatives, being a reassuring presence or providing some company to a patient who may not have any family or friends around.
“Ward staff in the pilot areas have welcomed the initiative, which complements the existing care delivered by our clinical teams. We are still at the very early stages of this pilot, but already we have had some lovely feedback from people which is very reassuring.”
One of the volunteers is Tracy Wylde from Moreton, Wirral, who undertakes the unpaid role when she is not at her usual day job.
Having cared for her mother, Tracey felt she had a lot to offer and wanted to do something positive with her experience.
“My mum spent a lot of time at Arrowe Park hospital and when the pilot started, I felt ready to give something back and use my experience of caring for mum to do some good. I love talking to people and hearing their stories and I like to think that my company helps to take their minds away from the reality of what is happening.
“One relative strongly believed that I had been sent to her so that her family member could pass away peacefully in the knowledge that she would have someone to turn to. She was so thankful for the support I was able to provide and I felt extremely proud that I had been able to bring something positive to a sad situation.”
The service is currently being offered on several wards with plans to eventually roll it out across the Trust.
As part of wider plans to improve end of life care, a new partnership website, endoflifecarewirral.org, has been launched to provide easy access to a range of support so that people at the end of their life, their families and carers can find the services that they need in one convenient location.
With guidance on planning ahead, including links to social care and organ donation information, the site also signposts people to practical and emotional advice such as what to do when someone dies, supporting children through loss and help for carers. Health and social care professionals will also benefit from the online resource with access to policies, guidelines and training.