The palliative care team at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT) won two categories at last week’s Patient Experience Network national awards (PENNA) for their innovative ‘Butterfly Cornwall’ project. The project, funded by Macmillan Cancer Support, aims to support staff to deliver better care for patients in their last days of life and to support families and loved ones.
The project won its awards for:
- Support for Caregivers Friends and Family
- Staff Engagement & Improving Staff Experience.
Butterfly Cornwall was piloted on one ward in 2018 and now covers the whole hospital. It involves using simple and effective tools, including discreet butterfly emblems on side room doors and yellow dignity clips on curtains. This helps staff identify that a patient is in the last days of their life so that they act with compassion and sensitivity towards both the patient and their family.
Many hospital staff have now been trained including cleaners, student nurses, ward staff and porters. They understand what the butterfly emblem means and how they can best support patients and families. The emblem highlights to staff that the person is approaching end of life and highlights the need for sensitive communication, privacy and dignity and also awareness of noise levels.
Jacqui Hodge, partnership manager at Macmillan, said “Compassion and sensitivity around end of life care is everyone’s business. Butterfly Cornwall is a great example of how Royal Cornwall Hospital is leading the way by showing that all staff have a role to play in helping a patient to have a ‘good death’. We are so proud to be involved in such an important project.”
Stephanie Brelsford, palliative care nurse at the Trust, whose role was funded by Macmillan and initially led `Butterfly Cornwall`, said: “To have our work recognised with two awards from the Patient Experience Network, is a validation of the approach taken by all the staff at the hospital to improve and enhance end of life care through simple actions which have a big impact for our patients and their families.
As part of the project grants from Macmillan have been utilised to fund wedding boxes and comfort bags. The comfort bags contain some essentials for visiting family members to be as comfortable as possible while staying with their loved one, such as shampoo, shower gel, toothbrush and toothpaste, a comb, hand wipes, pen and paper and information about the location of showers and support services within the hospital. The Wedding Boxes contain confetti, photo frame, wedding album and card, scented candle, bunting and champagne flutes – so that the Chaplaincy Team at the hospital can add special touches when conducting weddings for patients approaching end of life.
The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Charity also support `Butterfly Cornwall` including funding ‘Rainbow Days’ adding colour to someone’s last days, where staff can create extra special memories for patients and their families in the last days of their life. These have included arranging for patients to visit a special place in the last few days of life, bringing a much-loved pet into the ward, a favourite tipple, a steak meal and providing Prosecco for a wedding on the ward. The team is also supported by the RCHT League of Friends who have funded guest beds for the wards for relatives to use and the provision of the butterfly ‘Belongings bags’ for families to gather their loved one’s belongings when they pass away.
Liz Thomas specialist palliative & end of life team lead said, “We would like to thank everyone who has supported us in making `Butterfly Cornwall` possible. We will continue to grow and develop the project.”