The Anne Robson Trust (ART) makes a real difference to people who are facing their last few days and hours of life in an NHS hospital.
Our ART Butterfly Volunteers provide one to one compassionate listening, comfort and companionship to ensure people nearing the end of their life know that they are cared for and valued and will not have to face the prospect of dying alone.
We particularly focus our support on individuals with few or no visitors, who would otherwise be completely isolated, but also support family members who are often struggling to come to terms with the imminent death of their loved one and experiencing feelings of fear, confusion and anger.
Our Vision: That no one goes through the process of dying, alone
Our Mission: That everyone who dies in a UK hospital has someone to speak to and hold their hand as they face their final days.
ART received charitable status in May 2018, and we are currently running a team of Butterfly Volunteers at our pilot site, The Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow. The hospital has 27 active volunteers, and since the beginning of 2018 they have provided support to 313 patients nearing the end of their life, spending over 460 hours by the bedside. All this at no cost to our NHS Partners - our work is entirely funded by voluntary donations.
A report from The Royal College of Nursing in 2017 included some worrying quotes from nurses and ward staff surveyed, including:
- 'Patient care is seriously compromised when there are not enough staff. Patients at the end of life have no-one to sit with them. It is very upsetting when they have no family. Too many patients are dying alone.'
- ‘We are only able to fire fight. Patients that are not presenting with an acute need fade into the background’
- 'Being unable to attend to a dying patient as quickly as they need is soul-destroying.'
Volunteers are an amazingly useful, often untapped resource and one of the aims of ART is to help NHS Partner Hospitals launch, embed and sustain teams of these specially trained people, many with no clinical or nursing background, to support Palliative Care teams, patients, families and ward staff. With the ageing population growing rapidly, and ward staff already under pressure to provide the care they want to give - dedicated volunteers are becoming a necessity rather than an "add on".
With projects in the pipeline by August 2018 in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire, Cambridge, Pembrokeshire and London, ART is rapidly becoming a leader in the field of end of life volunteers.
For more information please see our website at www.annerobsontrust.org.uk, or email Liz Pryor on [email protected]