Background In the UK, the majority of people die in hospital.1 Community presence is considered to be a significant component to achieving a “good death”,2,3 however many patients die with no/few visitors, spending their last weeks of life isolated or alone.
Aim To establish a Volunteer Service and offer:
A presence to dying patients.
A connexion to the community outside the Hospital.
Support to families, unable to visit or emotionally exhausted from their bedside vigil.
Methods The Service was piloted on 6 wards (October 2012–March 2013) within a large NHS Trust, in the North of England. This was followed by a comprehensive evaluation, according to MRC guidance.
Results Analysis of the service evaluation indicated that the service was extremely beneficial, meeting its aims in providing an emotional support and spiritual presence to dying patients, and their families.
Conclusion The Service provides a model of best practice that could be replicated in other Trusts and within other care settings. There are plans to further develop and expand service provision across the Trust.
National End of Life Care Intelligence Network. What we know now. 2013. http://www.endoflifecare-intelligence.org.uk/resources/publications/what_we_know_now_2013
Department of Health. End of Life Care Strategy. 2008. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/end-of-life-care-strategy-promoting-high-quality-care-for-adults-at-the-end-of-their-life
Kellehear A. The end of death in late modernity, an emerging public health challenge. Crit Public Health 2007;17(1):71–79
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