Where do families at your hospital receive the news that their loved one has passed away? Where do they go after they have said farewell to their loved one but have to wait for the undertaker and to receive the personal effects? Is there a private space where they can grieve,
For seven years Lee Campbell, a senior registered nurse in the Accident and Emergency Department at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, UK, had the dream of an improved bereavement suite. This dream has eventually been realized. Campbell, who is bereavement lead at the hospital, launched a butterfly project in 2011. A picture of a butterfly – symbolizing the transition from an old life to a new life – is posted outside the door where people were receiving bad news. This serves as a reminder to hospital staff and paramedics to keep their voices down when passing.
Campbell received a national Nursing Times Award for The Butterfly Project in the year it was launched. The concept is now being used in the National Health Service (NHS) hospitals throughout the UK. Since then, she has been fighting for a bereavement suite at the hospital where she works.
The Butterfly Suite, a space providing privacy, peace
The suite now needs to be furnished to provide a comfortable home-from-home atmosphere. Staff at the hospital as well as the community are pitching in to raise the £15,000 needed to equip the room.
There have been many donations. Hospital staff arranged a cake sale, raffle and tombola event at the entrance to the hospital and a local nursery school raised £347. A community member, whose daughter was born a sleeping angel at the hospital, set himself a fund-raising challenge of abseiling from a tower in town despite being terrified of heights.
“The backing I have got has been amazing and has made me realize it isn’t just me wanting this but that everyone thinks it is needed and a good idea,” stressed Campbell.
This story touched me deeply as it took me back to two years ago when my own husband passed away in an A&E department. I relived the experience of sitting on the curb at the entrance – the fresh air outside with the patch of garden was better than inside the A&E – waiting for over an hour for the undertaker to arrive.
I hadn’t thought about it before reading about the Butterfly Suite, but what a difference it would have made if there had been a dedicated room where I could grieve as well as make and receive all the phone calls out of the public eye!
Does your hospital have a bereavement suite? If not, is it something you and other nurses could advocate for?
Please consider making a donation to the Butterfly Suite, visit: The Butterfly Suite Appeal donation page.