The burden of caring for a patient who is at the end of their life can have a massive impact on the emotional well-being of health care staff. When a patient dies, nursing and medical staff can feel a whole range of emotions, including deep sadness and regret. These emotions are often suppressed in order to provide support to family members and ongoing care for their remaining patients. We were worried that this left some staff at risk of stress and compassion fatigue. Traditionally, many nurses have placed a small posy of flowers with a patient after carrying out last offices as a final act of caring. However, with fresh flowers no longer allowed in many clinical areas, this tradition is dying out with nurses unable to show their feelings in this way. Comments and feedback from nursing staff on the acute wards told us that many nurses still wanted the option of using a flower at this time.
The Compassion Rose project was started as I felt that it was important for ward teams to have the opportunity to place flowers and acknowledge the human aspect of caring for someone who has died. I am a creative person and know that many other people share my passion for making things. The thought that I could harness the creativity and good will of others to produce the flowers really excited me, not to mention the bigger aim for all of us who work in end of life care, which is to encourage others to be more open to talking about death and dying. It took hours to create a low cost design which had the ‘right feel’ for such a sensitive use and simple enough for others to pick up easily. The final design costs less than 2p per rose. I involved the rest of the EOLC team, Palliative Care team and ward link nurses to help decide on the final design and colour, including the addition of a label reading 'lovingly handmade' to reflect the care and time taken to make them. I then had to find a way of producing them in the numbers needed approximately 800 a year! In collaboration with the volunteer coordinators within Salisbury Hospice, the acute Hospital and ArtCare, we were able to recruit a team of crafters and so the first Compassion Rose workshop took place in February 2018 and 150 roses were made. Shortly after, the League of Friends kindly agreed to fund the materials.
Alison Richards - Lead Nurse, End of Life Care Team
28 January 2021
Our staff at Salisbury District Hospital have long been well regarded for the quality of care and treatment they provide for our patients and for their innovation, commitment and professionalism. This has been recognised in a wide range of achievements and it is reflected in our award of NHS Foundation Trust status. This is afforded to hospitals that provide the highest standards of care.