This week, we’ve been supporting Dying Matters Awareness Week with our colleagues at the RUH. The aim has been to encourage each of us to talk about death, dying and bereavement. For many people it’s not a easy subject to talk about, but it’s really important for staff to be aware and understand the needs of patients and their families when they are close to the end of life.

To get the conversation started, a number of events were held throughout the week and The Forever Friends Appeal and our supporters have played a big part. Here’s a round-up of what has happened this week at the RUH:

On Monday 13 May, we held a ‘See It My Way’ session for staff to hear from guest speakers about their own personal experience of the loss of a loved one. We would like to say a big thank you to Bev, Shelley and Jo for speaking at this event.

On Tuesday 14 May, we were pleased to announce the new bereavement bags which we have funded (pictured below on the left) for RUH wards to use, providing a sensitive way of returning belongings to family members after the loss of their loved one.

These bags are environmentally friendly and will be a welcome option to the plastic green and grey bags (on the right) which were being used until now. The design on the bags uses the butterfly symbol which is used across the hospital to identify priorities of care.

On Wednesday 15 May, the new Compassionate Companions Service was launched at the RUH. The new service is a joint partnership between Dorothy House Hospice Care and the RUH – organisations that are both rated outstanding in end of life care by the Care Quality Commission.

The service has been funded for three years by the Sperring Trust – a grant given to our Appeal to support this fantastic project. The Sperring Trust looks after a legacy of Midsomer Norton builder Ralph Sperring, who left his estate to benefit the local community.

At the launch, Helen Meehan, Lead Nurse, Palliative Care and End of Life Team said: “I have always felt privileged to work in end of life care. I believe that our final hours are as precious as our first. Compassion underpins everything we do and this service will allow volunteers to be on our wards, providing patients with comforting words, a listening ear or to hold their hand – the support these patients very much need. It will also give families the chance for some respite during what is an emotionally and physically exhausting time.”

On Friday 17 May, a pop-up legal cafe offering free advice made a special, one-off appearance at the hospital. We would like to say thank you to Wards Solicitors from Keynsham for very kindly donating a hamper full of lots of sweet treats for staff to win, as well as offering a a free standard or joint Will to win in our staff competition.

Dying Matters Awareness Week at the RUH also included a book club discussion on the international bestseller ‘Being Mortal’ by Atul Gawande, and an opportunity at the Spiritual Care Centre for staff to reflect, listen and talk about end of life care and spirituality.

On Saturday 18 May a Service of Reflection for babies that have died, and the dedication of a remembrance garden will be held at Haycombe Cemetery in Bath – everyone is welcome to attend.

For more information about Dying Matters Week click here