Dying Matters – on the wards

Posted on:

How the RCHT Charity Butterfly Cornwall Fund is having an impact for patients and their loved ones at Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT).

For Todd Harris, (Specialist Palliative and End of Life clinical nurse specialist) at RCHT, helping patients and their loved ones have a ‘good death’ in the hospitals of the NHS Trust, is a true mission. Part of the Palliative and End of Life Care Team who work across the three hospitals of the Trust, Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, St Michael’s Hospital in Hayle and West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance, Todd and his colleagues work to improve a patient’s quality of life adopting a holistic approach to their care,

Image depicting NHS staff

“As a team, helping patients live as well as possible for as long as possible is one of our mantra’s. We see patients from any point their disease isn’t curative, and they have unaddressed needs, to the last moments of life. We focus on pain management, symptom control, psychological and spiritual support, and of course support for patients and their families.” said Todd.

The Butterfly Cornwall Fund of Royal Cornwall Hospitals Charity was established to improve the way patients and their loved ones spend their last days together. Generous donations to the fund allow the Palliative Care Team, and staff across the Trust, to provide care that resembles approaches and experiences traditionally found in hospice environments.

“We often receive feedback from a patient’s loved ones expressing their thanks for the additional support and care we were able to provide in the hospital at those very difficult and emotional times. Sometimes people are surprised that we have been able to provide such care and I am proud to be part of the team that enable such holistic care – it can make such a lasting difference to everyone involved, help create positive legacies for patients who have died and positively influence family members and loved one’s future interactions with healthcare services,” added Todd.

Feedback received from families has reflected this:

  • ‘We felt valued and supported.’
  • ‘To not have to worry about car parking, and to have meal vouchers gifted to us was a weight off my mind’.
  • ‘The blanket given to mum was gorgeous, I will treasure it.’
  • ‘We will never forget your empathy and support for us at this most difficult time.’

Established in 2018, in its lifetime, The Butterfly Cornwall Fund has enabled a wide range of enhancements in end-of-life care,

A number of special side rooms have been specially decorated to provide a peaceful, non-clinical space for patients at end of life. Guest beds have been purchased to allow loved ones to remain at the bedside if that is their wish, with the offer of comfort bags for those that perhaps need to stay unexpectedly.

The importance of supporting families to create keepsakes and memory boxes has been recognised with the addition of resources to enable special fingerprint jewellery or keepsake memory bottles to be readily available.   

Funding has purchased celebration boxes for weddings, birthdays or other important occasions that are sometimes facilitated at the hospital at short notice. The team liaise closely with the Chaplaincy Team to mark these occasions in the way the patient chooses.

Donations also help to support ‘Rainbow Days’ created to add colour to someone’s last days examples being the provision of a special meal, a manicure or massage or perhaps a visit to a special place.  

Recent fundraising by participants in cycling and running challenges have enabled the development of a sensitively presented patient folder to gather all of the resources and information into one place with a more personal and non-clinical feel.  

“As a team, we feel immense pride to be able to provide patients and their loved ones with these extras to enhance their experience and reduce the negative impact in end of life situations. We are inspired by the efforts of fund raisers, and positively motivated to continue doing what is a very hard, but ultimately, hugely rewarding and valuable role ”.

All of the initiatives funded through The Butterfly Cornwall Fund, would not be possible through public funding. Support for the fund is gratefully received. Donations can be made to The Butterfly Cornwall Fund online Butterfly Cornwall Fund – JustGiving

Anyone interested in finding out more about the fund is asked to contact the RCHT Charity Fundraising Team rcht.charity@nhs.net 01872 252858

Leave a Comment

Text Size

Change font