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Supporting caregivers, families and friends visiting dying loved ones in hospital

27 July 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 14


Kerry Messam (, Deputy Lead Nurse for Specialist Palliative and End of Life Care, Northampton General Hospital, achieved a Bronze Award in the BJN Awards 2023 Nurse of the Year category

The best possible end-of-life care cannot be delivered in isolation to patients alone (Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People, 2014). Sitting with a dying relative or friend in an acute hospital can be both physically and emotionally exhausting (Miller et al, 2022). A key component of the National Audit of Care at the End of Life (NHS Benchmarking Network, 2022) is that it advocates that caregivers, families and friends are asked about their needs, experiences of care and communication.

As health professionals, we will never be able to take away the sadness and grief associated with dying and the death of a loved one. What we can aspire to is positively influencing the memory-making by providing compassionate care to dying patients and their carers and loved ones.

A service evaluation adopting the Walking the Walk quality improvement design provided an experience-based approach to view the hospital through the eyes of caregivers and family visiting dying loved ones (Claire Henry Associates, 2019). Following ethical approval, a review group of eight participants with personal experience of caring for a dying relative, including people from marginalised groups, was selected through purposeful sampling.

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