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Helping hearts bring comfort to end of life patients

14 May 2020
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Families who are unable to see a loved ones nearing the end of their life in Shropshire’s community hospitals are being given special handmade knitted hearts to help them feel connected.
Knitted Hearts
Knitted Hearts
Visiting restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic mean patients and their relatives are separated when they need each other the most, but Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust are trying ease the pain by giving loved ones something to remember them by.

The knitted hearts are given in pairs - one is given to the patient and the other goes to the family as special keepsake. The knitted hearts are being given to patients the Trust’s four community hospitals in Bishop's Castle, Bridgnorth, Ludlow and Whitchurch

The idea was championed by Shropcom’s Chief Pharmacist Susan Watkins, who saw something similar on a Facebook post and decided to approach a local sewing group to see if they could offer support.

Knitters from across Shropshire responded by producing over 100 hearts, which are bringing comfort to patients and their loved ones.

Susan said: “Our nurses are always here to comfort and care for patients, and normally relatives would be allowed on our wards during this difficult time, but with the pandemic these restrictions have prevented this. It’s heart-breaking when your realise that loved ones can’t be here to hold their hands during those final moments.

“When a patient is nearing the end of their life, it is incredibly upsetting for families. It’s also had a profound effect on our nurses and clinical staff, who have been by our patients’ side as they have passed away without a relative present.

“By giving the patient a heart, and sending a matching one to their family, we hope this will bring a small piece of comfort to people during this traumatic time.

“We want the families to know that even though they can’t be here, we are and their loved one is not alone.”

In addition, the hearts are also being given to the Trust’s Community District Nurses to give to patients who are receiving their end-of-life care at home without their family present due to the geography.

The knitted hearts are quarantined upon initial receipt at the hospital for three days before they are given to the patient, to ensure any risk of infection is minimised.

In addition, the hearts are put in a bag in pairs and labelled with the date they were put into the bag. The hearts are posted to each family, who also receive a note from the staff on the ward.

Susan added: “We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from knitters across the region. People have been very generous and we have been flooded with lovingly-crafted hearts.

“On behalf of everyone involved with Shropcom, I would like to say a huge thank you to the ‘Sewing for NHS Shropshire’ Facebook group and everyone who has taken the time to make these hearts. Your lovely gesture has gone a long way to making things a little easier for families and patients across Shropshire.”

Anyone who wants to donate a knitted heart should send them to:

Nicola Dixon

(Wool hearts)

Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust

Corridor H

William Farr House

Mytton Oak Road


Next review due: 1 September 2020