A LEADING light on how people are looked after at the end of their lives has visited the area's hospital to see examples of its first-class bereavement care.

Fiona Murphy MBE spoke to staff at Furness General Hospital in Barrow last week about their ongoing work to improve the way dying patients are looked after.

Ms Murphy is well known throughout the NHS as the driving force behind the Royal Alliance Bereavement and Donor Service at three large hospital trusts in the North West - Salford Royal, Bolton, and Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh.

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She met the specialist bereavement team at the Dalton Lane site to discuss the support they provide to terminally ill patients and their families in the final hours of their lives, and immediately after death.

She also heard how staff do as much as they can to help fulfill the wishes of dying people - whether that is to return home or to get married - as well as plans to expand the services provided by the bereavement team in the future.

She was also impressed that the trust has adopted a dragonfly symbol as a signal to staff that a patient needs additional privacy, quiet and compassion in their final hours.

Ms Murphy said: "The whole team and wider staff across the trust should be very proud of what they have achieved.

"I absolutely loved their plans for a special room for patients who are nearing the end of their life and the new facilities which will allow their family members to stay with them. This is brilliant stuff and I am not aware of this happening in any other NHS Trust."

During the visit, Ms Murphy met the trust's deputy chief nurse Joann Morse, lead Macmillan palliative care nurse Joy Wharton, bereavement liaison specialist nurses Carole Palmer and Lindsay Pinch, bereavement midwife Becky Bleackley, and the hospital's chaplain Ed Northey.

She also met with mortuary manager Joe Ogle and saw firsthand the improvements the team has made for relatives when they visit the hospital mortuary, as well as discussing and recommending further improvements that can be made.

Bereavement liaison specialist nurse Carole Palmer said: "We were delighted to welcome Fiona to FGH.

"She is widely credited with transforming organ donation and bereavement practice across the NHS and along with her team, and is known throughout the NHS for pulling out all the stops to help make a dying patient’s wishes come true in their final hours."