Wooden Memory Hearts are being given to patients receiving end of life care at Walsall Manor Hospital during their final hours as a token of reassurance for their families and carers that they were not alone when they died.
The hearts are being made by a group of people from all over the country and supplied to Amanda Wilkes, co-owner of Coopers Crafty Corner in Pelsall, who has worked on the idea with Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s palliative care teams and is providing organza bags and seeded labels. Colleagues here saw that Blackpool Victoria Hospital did something similar and thought it was really special.
The hearts are made of wood and varnished so that they meet infection prevention and control standards and they are placed into the patient’s hand during their final hours. Following their death the heart is placed into an organza bag along with a heart-shaped tag bearing their name and date of death . This tag is made of wild seeds so the patient’s family can plant it if they wish.
Providing care during end of life can be a stressful and highly emotive time for both patients and their loved ones – particularly in a time such as this, during a pandemic – when relatives have to maintain a distance.
Sarah Griffin, Walsall Healthcare Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Specialist, said: “We want to reassure families and carers who are unable to visit their loved ones that we will be there for them both at this time as well as beyond the pandemic.
“It has also been important for us to work to create something meaningful that may bring them some comfort. The Memory Heart symbolises one of our trust values which is compassion and will now be added to the Blossom Boxes we have on our wards. Thanks to funding via our Well Wishers charity, Blossom Boxes were introduced on some of our wards last year and will be rolled out further as a resource to promote dignity and respect at the end of patients’ lives and to ensure consistency with the care that we deliver at such a time.”
Amanda, of Coopers Crafty Corner, has been co-ordinating production of the hearts which have been made by:
Suzy Perry and Paul Stephens
“People from all over the country have been getting involved which is so kind of them – some are aged in their eighties. And they include one gentleman who doesn’t want to give his name but is nevertheless making a vital contribution,” said Amanda whose own business is Amanda’s Block Crafts.
“It’s a lovely idea and I was happy to work with the trust on this.”
Sally Rowe, Non-Executive Director at Walsall Healthcare, added: “This is an extremely challenging and unsettling time for patients’ families and friends and I’m pleased to see we have been able to find a way of bringing some comfort to them. Thank you to everyone involved in making this happen.”
Memory Hearts will also be extended to local care homes soon.