BHRUT’s palliative care team talk about why dying matters

PUBLISHED: 16:57 06 May 2016 | UPDATED: 16:57 06 May 2016

Queen's Hospital, Romford, where most of BHR's staff work

Queen's Hospital, Romford, where most of BHR's staff work


Caring for the sick and the dying is one of the most profoundly important aspects of healthcare.

Celia Woolward’s story

It’s been horrible to come to terms with, but I’m happy because I’ve got my family around me. I’m ready to go, as long as there is less pain. I’ve got no fear.

I can’t describe how much the end of life care has helped me. When I first came in I was in so much pain, but they’re very good at comforting me – they always check what I need.

My sister and brother-in-law have been to visit me from New York, so I got to see my three-year-old niece, and that helped. My only nephew is also coming over from Vancouver.

My husband is ill at the moment and he’s getting worse, so it’s kind of like ‘which one of us will go first?’ so we facetime from our hospital beds.

We’ve been married 30 years and I worry about him.

I’m very religious, I always joined the pilgrimage every year, so having Father John (the hospital chaplain) come and sit with me has helped.

The funny thing is I never got sick, and then I felt a pain in my stomach and here I am.

They asked me if I wanted to do chemo, but chemo would kill the good cells and the bad cells and I just want to rest now.

I’m 63 years old and I’ve aged so much recently – I’ve lost 20lbs.

But I’m at peace. This is God’s plan.

At Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT), the palliative care unit is constantly striving to ensure any patient’s final days are as comfortable as possible.

As part of Dying Matters awareness week, the Recorder visited Queen’s Hospital to speak to some of the professionals working day in and day out to help those reaching the end of their lives.

Dr Claire Bates, consultant for palliative care, is proud of the work BHRUT does to make sure its patients’ needs are met.

She said: “We have a vision of what we want to achieve and it’s excellence for every patient and their family.”

The trust has appointed an executive to oversee end of life care, and a committee helps draw up action points for the entire organisation to put into practice when it comes to treating terminal patients.

Sharing data between St Francis Hospice and the trust is a key aspect of the work the two organisations do together.

Members of staff attend team meetings at both the hospital and the hospice, with two senior doctors and a shared on-call rota working across the two locations.

A new shared electronic database was set up in September allowing staff to share their files on patients and to save time.

The job can obviously be emotionally exhausting, so staff at the palliative care unit are monitored very closely.

Team leader Heather Wright said: “We have a really good team ethos. We meet every morning to discuss our patients and you can pick up then if people are struggling.

“You can’t help it, some patients will touch your heart – that’s what makes you real –- and if you don’t sometimes get upset maybe you’re in the wrong job.

“At the end of the day, we’re here to make the patient as comfortable as possible and make sure they’re at peace.”

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