Losing a loved one can be one of the most difficult times in someone’s life.
At this challenging time when COVID-19 is affecting so many people we are looking at ways our nursing and midwifery staff can support families following the death of their loved one.
A small token may bring them some comfort and we are asking the knitting community across Greater Glasgow and Clyde to knit us small hearts.
A small heart will be offered to families with another remaining with the deceased in the hope it will allow them to feel more connected to their relative who has recently died.
Knitters are asked to use clean wool and once they are knitted to deliver the hearts in re-sealable plastic bags with the date clearly written on it. This is so staff can allow five days before the hearts can be used.
Margaret McGuire, Board Nurse Director, said: “Due to the highly contagious nature of coronavirus and necessary visiting restrictions, many families and carers have been unable to spend time with or see their loved ones before they die.
“When a patient dies it is considerably unsettling not just for the families but for our staff who have been caring for them. Our staff want to support families by providing comfort and support and this is especially prevalent at the moment when our patients are dying from coronavirus.
“We hope that offering families a small knitted heart and reassuring them that one will remain with their loved one will be a small comfort to them during a difficult time and we are asking that knitters across NHSGGC will support us to be able to offer this small token.”
Liz Smith is staff nurse in Intensive Care at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and has been involved in offering hearts to families whose loved one has died.
She said: “I would really like to express our upmost thanks to all the people who have sent us in the beautiful knitted hearts to Intensive Care.
“Just over two weeks ago I forwarded a social media post which suggested the idea of using knitted hearts to help provide comfort to patients and relatives who were kept apart by COVID- 19 and so far we have received over 2,000 hearts with more arriving every day.
“We have been blown away by the numbers we have received and I know that many staff have been uplifted reading the small notes that have accompanied many of them. It’s amazing to see hearts arriving from all over Scotland and even have deliveries from Ireland and England. There are hearts made from all different fabrics, shapes and sizes.
“We have passed on around 800 hearts to other wards across the hospital who are providing care to other patients either with or without COVID-19 and are unable to receive visitors.
“Within our unit we have been making sure that each patient has an allocated heart which is either placed in their hand or beside them on their pillow. The matching heart is then posted out to their next of kin with a short note to tell them what the hearts are for.
“I recently spoke to a relative of a patient who had sadly passed away and they told me that they appreciated that the heart had gone with them. We have also had requests for extra hearts to be sent out to some families and because we have been so lucky in receiving so many, this is an option we can provide.
“As a staff nurse within ICU I am used to spending time providing comfort and support to family and friends of the patient who sit beside their loved one. During this time we often hear about their lives and personalities so it is strange not to have this during this time.
“I know that many of our staff miss this side of our job. We really just want to give some comfort to those who aren’t able to be with their loved one while they’re in hospital.”
Anyone wanting to provide hearts can send them to the hospital of their choice where they will be distributed to appropriate wards.
Notes to Editors