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Volunteers bring compassion and support to patients receiving end-of-life care

We’re marking Dying Matters Week by paying tribute to our volunteers who bring compassion and support to patients receiving end-of-life care and to families experiencing bereavement.

“We have one chance to get this important work right; our wonderful volunteers help us achieve this to the highest standard. Thanks to them, the bereavement and mortuary service is an award-winning service.” – Shaan Malhotra, group head of bereavement & mortuary services.

Bereavement services

A team of volunteers attend the bereavement office weekly to send out a condolence card to every bereaved next-of-kin so that families know we are thinking of them and are available for support and assistance.

In the condolence card, next-of-kin are advised that the service will be calling in a few weeks to check-in and see how they are doing; some of our volunteers are on that team of callers.

The volunteers who make the calls spend time talking to bereaved next-of-kin to offer comfort and compassion and to ensure that if the next-of-kin have any questions or concerns, these are acted upon. The volunteers have helped to contact over 1,700 bereaved next-of-kin.

Further volunteers support the bereavement service by taking calls in the office so that all bereaved families are attended to without delay and that information and guidance is provided in a calm and steady way with kindness and accuracy.

Spiritual care

We also have a team of six volunteers supporting the trust’s chaplaincy-spiritual care team. They tend to the spiritual wellbeing of patients and family members of all faiths and none. They often provide comfort at times of spiritual challenge.

Chaplain Claire Carson explains: “The aim of Dying Matters Awareness Week is to encourage people to think, ask questions and talk about death. Every day my work as a chaplain reminds me how fragile and precious life is. So many people I talk to wish they had been able to talk about death with loved ones sooner. Being open, honest and having the courage to talk about death and dying can transform the way we live or lives. It can also transform the care we offer patients who are dying.

“The Chaplaincy-Spiritual Care team is here for everyone of any faith, belief, or philosophy of life. We offer spiritual and religious care in response to an individual’s need in a compassionate, non-judgemental way. As well as chaplains from various faith and belief backgrounds our volunteers visit patients each week on the wards, offering them time and space to explore their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and stories about what is important to them. Sometimes being alongside someone in silence is just as important.”

Mari, a chaplaincy-spiritual care volunteers says: “A dying patient once said to me that what she most wanted was to be able to die at peace with the world. In the weeks that followed it was a strange joy to give her calm space in which to consider what that might mean – from the form of her funeral to the possessions she might leave each of her daughters and the growing comfort of her faith”.

For more information about Dying Matters and how to prepare so that you and your loved ones are in a good place when you die, visit Dying Matters Awareness Week | Hospice UK.