Butterfly helpers welcomed in Doncaster hospital

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Special people dubbed ‘butterfly volunteers’ are sharing final moments with hospital patients, in a bid to ensure that no-one has to die alone.

The trained helpers at Doncaster Royal Infirmary provide comfort and company to dying hospital patients, and to their family and friends.

They have become hugely successful additions to the team since the scheme started in August last year.

Volunteers can give time to patients when medical and clinical staff cannot.

They will sit and talk, run errands and also give the patient’s loved ones valuable time to get home for a few hours, knowing that their friend, parent, child or significant other is not on their own.

Last year the Royal College of Nursing released a study which described how many hospital patients were dying alone, due to the time constraints facing clinical and medical staff. The End of Life Care Team at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals has been working hard to improve the experience of final stage patients.

Julie Taylor is one of 14 volunteers at the Trust. She said: “I believe that this is one of the most important things I have ever done, and I consider it a privilege to spend time with patients during their final moments.

“While you often think of this time as being very sad, there is such warmth being shared by families and friends and being able to help during this time is hugely rewarding. When patients are very poorly, often they just want to know that they are not alone. Whether holding their hand, chatting with them or simply being there, it is a very humbling experience.”

Karen Lanaghan, End of Life Coordinator at the Trust, said: “We will all be affected by death at some point and as a hospital it is our duty to ensure that we get this aspect of care right, treating the patient with dignity and respect.

“Our Butterfly Volunteers offer crucial support. You don’t get a second chance at this kind of care and this is one way in which we hope to ensure that we get it right.”