Pilgrims project brings extra compassion to hospital care

Pilgrims Hospices is hoping to improve end of life care for patients across East Kent, thanks to a new project.

The Compassion Project, a partnership between Pilgrims Hospices and East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (EKHUFT), rolls out this month.

Wendy Hills, Pilgrims Hospices Director of Nursing and Care, said: “Pilgrims has over 30 years of experience working with families at some of the most difficult times of life. We are committed to having a positive impact on the individual’s experience of end of life care of as many people in east Kent as possible. This project has come from that desire.”

The project will support hospital staff on more than 50 east Kent wards and departments to give dedicated support to patients in the last days of life and work compassionately with their families.

She added: “Together with EKHUFT, we are delighted to launch the Compassion Project throughout east Kent’s hospital wards so we can reach as many people as possible.”

Extra end of life care training in Kent hospitals

The project will support hospital staff to give compassionate care to patients at end of life.

The staff, from William Harvey Hospital, Kent and Canterbury Hospital and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital, will receive hands on training from a lead nurse from Pilgrims Hospices. This is alongside their own training and expertise in this field.

All departments will be be involved; non clinical and clinical. The wards and departments, such as A&E, will also receive a pack including staff guidelines, posters for the public, patient information and display materials with the compassion symbol for use in care areas.

Being there for patients and families

Annie Hogben, Compassion Project Lead for Pilgrims Hospices, explained : “End of life care is such a difficult period for patients and relatives. All of this is intended to support open and respectful communication between all staff and families.

“The symbol acts as a reminder to staff to be extra caring and to pay extra attention to relatives and friends whose loved ones are in the last stages of life and in their greatest time of need.”

She says the project is making progress so far: “We started the rollout with nine wards initially and the cascade will continue very quickly now. As well as visiting wards, we have been able to discuss the project with many clinical and non clinical staff at their local hospital ‘ hub’ meetings. The feedback has been really positive from everyone involved.”

Heidi Anderson, End of Life Care Facilitator at EKHUFT, said: “A kind word, arranging a visit from a patients’ pet or a cup of tea can be as important as a dose of medication and for the right patient can really help to get rid of some stress and anxiety.

“It is so important that we treat patients and those important to them, exactly as we would want ourselves or our loved ones treated.”

A kind word, arranging a visit from a patients’ pet or a cup of tea can really help to get rid of some stress and anxiety.

Where you might see the Compassion symbol

The Pilgrims Hospices logo will become the Compassion Symbol – used around the hospitals to raise awareness of the need to be considerate and respectful at what is a very significant and poignant time.

Following a conversation with the patient and their family with the clinical teams, the ‘Compassion Symbol ‘ will be shown at ward stations, on ward boards and on bedside curtains or side room doors when a patient is expected to die in the next few hours or days, or when a patient has just died.

If you or someone you know is coping with a life limiting illness and you think you may benefit from Pilgrims free services, talk to your GP or Healthcare Professional about your options or click here to read about our Wellbeing and Social Programme.