good life, good death, good grief

Scottish Compassionate Communities Toolkit

No-one Dies Alone

No-one Dies Alone is an initiative that trains and supports compassionate citizens as companions for people and families in the last hours of life.

The approach was first developed by Sandra Clark, a nurse at the Peaceheart centre in Eugene, Oregon, where in 2001 she found herself through pressures on the ward to be unable to fulfill her promise to return to a dying man who had asked her to stay with him.

Consequently she envisioned a program where volunteers would sit at the bedside of dying patients to provide comfort and compassionate care - No-one Dies Alone.

The No-one Dies Alone programme was first brought to Scotland by Compassionate Inverclyde, where it was initially developed to support people at end of life in Inverclyde Royal Hospital and is now spreading to support end of life care in the community, initially in care homes.

Within Inverclyde, volunteers carry a Comfort Care Bag containing a CD player; a variety of genres of CDs; a NODA vigil journal that documents the present vigil for the oncoming volunteer; a notebook to record the volunteer’s thoughts/experiences; NODA cards and envelopes to leave a note for the patient or family; a Bible or rosary if applicable; insightful readings; and evaluation forms that the volunteer completes at the end of the vigil.

The model as implemented in Inverclyde remains faithful to the original in some ways. Key differences include the fact that volunteers are recruited from the community (though many nurses are amongst them) and NODA in Inverclyde also provides support to families struggling at the end stage of life of their relative.

After a period of planning, negotiation, recruitment and training, NODA was implemented in December 2017. When the hospital gets in touch to advise that a patient is approaching the end of life, companions are alerted and rotas organised through the NODA companions Whatsapp group. Updates are communicated through Whatsapp and notes about the person’s condition and any changes or interactions are recorded in a journal which can be shared with the family.

Reference: Compassionate Inverclyde Voices: The narrative from a local perspective.

Photo by Bruce Hong on Unsplash

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