A therapy team has provided companionship to end-of-life patients in Swindon
I normally work in outpatients and at the start of Covid-19 we upskilled, expecting to help out on the wards.
But the number of patients in the south west was lower than expected and we were not needed, so we wondered how else we could help.
I had been distressed by reports in the media of loved ones dying alone and had an idea to provide a companion service.
I was overwhelmed by the number of colleagues who volunteered – many unknown to each other – from physiotherapy, occupational therapy and nursing, with varying experience, many not having worked on the wards for 20 years.
The companion service saw us working with the palliative care team, providing a seven-day service.
We contacted families to find out about the lives and interests of their loved ones. And, using this information, we were able to reconnect patients with their lives outside the hospital: chatting about their memories, playing their favourite music, reading to them and organising virtual visits.
We provided simple acts of kindness such as massage, mouthcare, positioning them to be comfy and bringing in requests, which ranged from a can of Fanta to a Jack Daniels!
It was difficult to convey compassion in PPE, but we got up close and personal and we often sat and provided companionship to patients for up to two hours.
The work was physically and emotionally draining but, from the stories we heard and shared during handover, it was clear we gained so much, during an extraordinary time – and the unique memories will stay with us forever.
We are so proud of what we achieved and want to share our experience.
- Diane Turner is the musculoskeletal assessment and treatment service physiotherapy clinical lead at the Great Western Hospital
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