Not being able to see loved ones during some of their hardest moments, due to strict but necessary visitor restrictions in place at hospitals, has been one of the toughest consequences of the pandemic.
Thanks to generous donations we’ve awarded Blue Skies Hospitals Fund NHS charity with a grant to connect patients and their families during their hardest moments, sometimes sadly to say one last goodbye to their loved ones. Donations have also been used to establish a bereavement service and quiet spaces for reflection.
Jackie Brunton (pictured above, left) works at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as the Lead Nurse for End of Life and Bereavement Care and has worked there for four years. Having trained in Manchester and worked in other areas of the UK, Jackie feels very privileged to be looking after the community in her home patch of Blackpool.
Jackie used the grant to help put in place support that enabled families to stay in touch at a time when they were unable to be together physically, with iPads on every ward. In many cases, this meant sharing valuable final memories together at a time when this was considered impossible due to the restrictions.
She was awarded Nurse of the Year at The Sun’s 2021 Who Cares Wins awards for her work at the Trust.
“Thanks to funding from NHS Charities Together and Blue Skies, we were able to act quickly in making these enhancements to the care received by patients and their loved ones. We’ve been overwhelmed by the support that we have received from the charities and the local community, which enables us to make these facilities available for patients and families both now and in the future.”
Jackie was nominated by the award by Sue Ayrton (pictured above, right), who was able to say goodbye to her father Neville virtually thanks to Jackie, after visiting restrictions were introduced early on in the pandemic.
“During the early days of the pandemic and during the chaos that ensued Jackie was my guardian angel. She showed me kindness and understanding above and beyond what I could have ever have wished for. The things that Jackie and her team have achieved over the past 18 months have been nothing but remarkable. They have now created a legacy which will continue to flourish at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.”
The Trust have now funded and established a permanent end-of-life and bereavement team called the ‘Swan Team’, who are available to support those struggling with loss. The team are based in the ‘Swan Suite’, a refurbished space made possible through the NHS Charities Together and Blue Skies funding that can be used by anyone needing support. Having this quiet space was particularly valuable for staff during the height of the pandemic.
The facility was initially established as a temporary service in 2020 and became a permanent fixture on its first anniversary in April 2021, continuing to provide both patients’ family members and staff with a much-needed escape during times of need. Personalised bereavement support for grieving families is also provided by the team in the form of cards, wooden hearts, and memory boxes.
The pandemic has highlighted a need for more quiet spaces following the success of the ‘Swan Suite’, the teams plan to further enhance the accommodation available with additional comfort and side rooms, as well as private spaces for visiting families to take care of basic needs such as sleeping and showering at a time when it can be much harder than usual to do these things.
Kila Redfearn, Head of Charity at Blue Skies, said:
“The comfort of patients and their loved ones during their stay is so important. We want to ensure that everyone who walks through the door of the hospital feels welcomed, and thanks to generous donations we are able to make improvements that make their time at the hospital easier.”
Support our work
With the impact of Covid-19 on the NHS workforce, the threat of a third wave, and services that are busier than ever, NHS Charities Together needs to continue to be there for the people of the NHS, which is why we need your support to continue funding this vital work.
Working with a network of NHS member charities covering the UK, grants have been awarded for projects that include services and facilities to support staff wellbeing, bereavement support for families who have lost loved ones, and research into long-Covid to improve patient treatments and outcomes.
Together, we can continue providing patients and staff with the extra support they need, when they need it.