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End-of-life care and bereavement services during the pandemic

14 May 2020

Sunset over sand dunes
To support families and friends of loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic, advice has been published online outlining the arrangements for end-of-life visits in hospital and bereavement support services available. 

The online advice and support coincide with Dying Matters Awareness Week, which runs from 11 to 17 May, which promotes the importance of people talking about dying, death and bereavement.

Family members can now see loved ones at the hospital, one at a time, while wearing personal protective equipment, to ensure their safety and that of staff. Guidance on how family members can see their loved ones who are receiving end-of-life care was updated last month after precautions were relaxed around visitation restrictions.

Photos can be brought on these visits and if family or friends are unable to visit they can still speak to and see patients virtually using a hospital tablet. 

In the event of a death, Islanders can access a range of bereavement support services to help them through the early stages of their grieving process. Practical support and advice for families, from arranging the funeral to finding where to go for religious or spiritual support, have been coordinated by Health and Community Services’ Patient Advisory Liaison Services (PALS) team, working with the hospital chaplaincy, Jersey Hospice Care, MacMillan Cancer Support Jersey and the Dean of Jersey, the Very Rev Mike Keirle. 

In addition, PALS has introduced a sympathy card and specially designed key ring for families of a deceased patient. The keyring has a heart at the centre of it, which is detached and placed in the hand of the deceased. The rest of the keyring, along with the specially designed card, will be sent to their families. 

PALS Manager Nicola de Jesus said: “We’re here to ensure that despite COVID-19, families have the information and support they need during what will be a very difficult time for them. All the teams we work with have been giving excellent support in their own right for many years, and we’re now working even more closely to support bereaved families at this very difficult time. This can vary, depending on what support a family may need and may include arranging a virtual meeting between them with their loved one in hospital or helping families deal with certain formalities following a bereavement.

”The sympathy card and keyring are keepsakes for families from the teams at HCS who will have cared for their loved ones during their final days and hours and we hope they will bring them some comfort at a very difficult time for them.”

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