One of the hardest things about being in hospital at this time is your loved ones being unable to visit you. When someone is for end of life care they are given meds so that they are comfortable and not in any pain. We often don’t know exactly when a patient will pass away, but the team can give a timeframe of when it is likely. On our Covid-19 ward there was often many, sometimes whole wards full of patients receiving end-of-life care. Working in hospitals we were all used to seeing patients at the end of their lives, but sadly not to this extent. Not this many all at one time, and not without their loved ones by their side.
It was sad but it was so lovely to see how the team handled the situation. We took it in turns to sit with patients - nurses, therapists, volunteers, doctors, anyone that could spare any time at all. All making sure these patients were not alone. We had these beautiful, knitted hearts made by volunteers which came in sets of two – one heart was given to the patient, the other sent to their relative. The hearts came with a note that read “This little heart is one of two, one is with me, the other with you. Made with tender loving care, hold your heart and I shall be there”.
I was sat with one man, holding his hand, and for the half an hour or so that I was with him 3 different members of staff popped their head around the curtain and when they saw me sitting there, they said “oh great, you’re here - I wanted to make sure he wasn’t alone”. Despite how busy they were, that kindness was overwhelming. It was so comforting to know that when I got called away and couldn’t be there, someone else would be. I did not leave the bedside until someone else came to sit with him when I left – a nurse who had decided to spend her break sitting with him.
The team, exhausted and overwhelmed, still ensured that patients, especially those who were at the end of their life, weren’t alone. We knew we could never take the place of their family and friends, but we made sure someone was there, treating them as if they were our own family.
Author Notes: Claire Stainton