Blossom Boxes are being introduced across three wards initially at Walsall Manor Hospital and aimed to improve and standardise end of life and bereavement care for patients and strengthen support for their families and carers.
The boxes will be initiated for patients identified as approaching the last hours or days of their life and will support all medical and nursing staff to ensure a consistent approach. Other non-clinical staff such as porters, security and housekeeping will also be involved in this project which will raise awareness for those accessing clinical areas.
The idea came from a bereavement focus group set up by Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and has been led by Sarah Griffin, Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Specialist. The initiative has been funded by the Trust’s Well Wishers charity.
The project launched today, Tuesday 20 November, and will be trialled for two months on Walsall Manor Hospital’s Acute Surgical Unit, Ward 15 and Ward 7. The boxes will include a number of personal touches as well as necessary documentation to support staff. Items include materials for families to take hand prints of their loved one, keepsake organza bags for the removal of jewellery or to keep a lock of hair and comfort packs for relatives or loved ones to freshen up.
There will also be laminated pictures of coloured glass trees, modelled on the end of life tree at Walsall Palliative Care Centre. These are to be displayed on the doors of side rooms or bay curtains (once consent is gained from the patient, family or carer) to indicate to staff working on the ward and visiting the ward that the patient is approaching the end of their life.
Sarah Griffin said: “End of life care is everyone’s business and the way that someone dies remains in the memory of those that live. We have one chance to get it right and make a lasting difference. This idea has been developed after working with patients and taking on board feedback received from their families”.
As the boxes are launched staff using them will be aware of an end of life care pledge adhering to six national commitments ensuring person-centred care, fair access and co-ordinated care.
Vicki Jones, Specialist Nurse Practitioner, said “We want to make sure conversations have taken place with the patient (where appropriate), family and carers by the doctors and nurses in charge of their care and that everyone is clear about the patient’s wishes and preferences.
“Each ward has designated Palliative Care link nurses, Clinical Support Workers and Trainee Nursing Associates. These are crucial team members; pioneers on their respective wards who will be responsible for the running amd maintenance of their Blossom Boxes. Small things make a big difference.”
Fundraising Manager Georgie Westley added: “Well Wishers has donated around £1,000 to fund these boxes and the charity is proud to be associated with this innovative approach to enhancing end of life care and bereavement support”.