[A] new bereavement suite and chapel have opened at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.
The suite offers a peaceful, separate space for people to visit after a bereavement, to receive practical help, to be listened to, or to simply sit quietly and remember.
The chapel has moved to a more central location in the hospital and is a space where people of any faith, or none at all, can come to relax and reflect.
The Trust has also opened two multi faith prayer rooms in West Cumberland Hospital for people of any faith to worship in. Wash facilities have also been provided if people wish to wash before they pray.
Located near the old main reception and by the hospital shop, the new chapel and suite offer patients, visitors and staff a much more accessible place for their spiritual and emotional needs.
Lead Chaplain Rev Simon Cake said: “The new location allows greater access to patients, visitors and staff, we want people to come and just take time out. This is a space for everyone and we’ve already had someone kindly bring in two vases of flowers as decoration, which is really nice to see.”
The bereavement suite is an inviting space where family or friends can come to collect a death certificate or patient possessions without having to revisit the ward area where their loved one was cared for. It will also provide privacy for those important conversations with doctors or other staff members. In addition, a room is available for those who are having crucial life-giving conversations about organ or tissue donation.
A new bereavement nurse, Michelle Towers, has also been appointed to help train staff and help patients’ families through the loss of a loved one. Michelle is part of a team of staff, who will be in post later this month, to support patients, relatives and staff through the emotional and distressing time when someone dies.
Michelle said: “I’m really passionate about the work we are doing. Helping families through one of the most difficult times of their lives is very challenging but also deeply rewarding. We can’t avoid death but we can help people come to terms with their loved ones dying and help in the grieving process.”
In the Trust’s latest CQC inspection (March 2017) end of life care was rated as ‘good’ across both hospital sites. It was noted that the Trust has developed a ‘Care of the Dying Patient’ plan that provides prompts and guidance for ward-based staff when caring for someone at the end of life. The inspection team saw specialist palliative care nurses working closely with medical staff on the wards and recognised that staff demonstrated ‘compassion, respect and an understanding of preserving dignity and privacy of patients following death’.
There is a commitment at all levels within the Trust to raise the profile of death, dying, and end of life care. This included improving ways in which conversations about dying are held and engaging with patients and their families to ensure their choices and wishes are achieved.