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General Hospital introduces dignity bags

02 August 2018

Nurses and chaplain holding dignity bags

The families of patients who have died at Jersey’s General Hospital or in States nursing homes will now be given dignity bags for their relative’s belongings.

Previously, it has not been unusual for someone’s possessions to be passed back to their family in a plastic bag or bin liner. The dignity bag is a dignified and sensitive way of returning their personal belongings. The bag has a butterfly symbol, chosen by hospital staff in a recent vote over a shell and a spiral pattern. The bag alerts staff and visitors to recognise that someone has been recently bereaved.

Chaplain Revd Tracy Bromley said “The butterfly symbol was overwhelmingly chosen, a symbol commonly associated with new life, bringing hope in bereavement. It refers to the transformation in nature, when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.”

Lead Nurse Wendy Baugh said “Our aim is to convey to the family and staff that, while the person was under our care, we cared for them and respected them from the moment they arrived, and that their belongings have been treated with the same care and dignity.”

The bags have been financed by the Chaplaincy Chapel Fund, which was set up to be used in improving patient care and wellbeing. Nursing and Chaplaincy came together to introduce the bags, and a thousand bags have been produced using a Jersey printing firm. The dignity bags will soon be distributed around the hospital wards and other sites.

Chaplaincy Team Leader, Revd Maureen Turner, said “It has been a great privilege to be part of this initiative”.

Staff Nurse Julie le Long said “We hope that the symbol will become widely recognised within the hospitals, Rosewood House and Sandybrook Nursing Home, as a sensitive way of highlighting to staff and visitors that someone is bereaved.”

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