NHS Western Isles has launched a new project to help improve the experiences of family and carers following the bereavement of a loved one in hospital, by providing handmade personal bags.
On average, during the last six months of their lives, people spend 13% or 23 days in hospital.
As a result, the health board has partnered up with the volunteer centre to introduce the Absent Friends Project.
Respect and care for belongings
The project aims to improve the way that a person’s belongings are shared with their family after they have died, by providing handmade personal bereavement bags.
Katherine Stewart, a staff nurse at the Western Isles Hospital’s Medical 1 Ward, came up with the idea in order to ensure the utmost respect and care for the deceased person’s belongings.
Separate bereavement bags are issued for smaller personal items such as jewellery, while larger bereavement bags are provided for clothing.
Local sewing volunteers created a variety of samples of different designs and sizes at the end of last year, and NHS Western Isles staff provided feedback on which were the most suitable for families and carers.
Bereavement bags are now available across all NHS Western Isles Hospitals.
‘Alleviate feelings of dismay’
NHS Western Isles chief executive Gordon Jamieson said: “This project is all about supporting people who have sadly lost a loved one, and helping to improve the experience they have at such a sad time.
“I would like to thank Katherine Stewart for coming up with this concept and also everyone involved in taking the project forward.”
The development of the project was supported by NHS Western Isles’ Bereavement Group.
A spokesperson from the group stated: “The bereavement bags will help alleviate the feelings of dismay and will provide a place to store special keepsakes that we can look at or put away in a safe place.”
The Absent Friends Project was funded by the Building on the Best programme whose aims are to improve palliative and end of life care in hospitals.
NHS Western Isles added it would “specifically like to pay tribute to and thank the local volunteers involved in this project, as we mark this year’s Volunteers Week”.