Whether someone dies in a hospital, hospice or residential aged care facility, it’s not unusual for their possessions to be passed back to their family in a plastic garbage bag. An End of Life Care Committee in Queensland has developed a more sensitive and respectful approach, which it hopes will be adopted nationally.
The Committee, from Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service (SCHHS), developed handover bags, which are printed with a tree symbol designed to represent the cycle of life.
“The aim of the handover bags is to convey to the family and staff that whilst the person was a patient with us, we cared for them and respected them,” says SCHHS principal project officer for End of Life Care, Wendy Pearse.
“This care and respect begins the moment they arrive with us, until the time they leave. We will treat their belonging with the same care and dignity that we showed to the person who died.”
The same purple symbol is printed on resources which can be given to families in the bag, including a bereavement card and a booklet titled “When someone dies…”. It also features on door signs which indicate to staff and visitors that a patient has died.