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Karen Harford

The first dedicated Macmillan bereavement nurse in the UK has been appointed at Basildon University Hospital as part of our commitment to improve end of life care.

Karen Harford’s (pictured above) appointment as bereavement nurse specialist will involve supporting patients, relatives and staff both before and after death.

Her appointment will drive forward the Trust’s dandelion project which aims to improve end of life care at Basildon University Hospital.

Dawn Patience, director of nursing, said: “End of life care is everyone’s responsibility. Staff have one chance to get it right. Once chance to create a lasting memory for a bereaved family.”

Karen, whose background is in intensive care nursing, critical care outreach and most recently, organ and tissue donation, will be the point of contact for support, advice and information for staff, patients and families.

She aims to do focussed teaching with ICU staff helping to support them to have difficult conversations with families about end of life.

Karen said: “It’s about empowering and supporting staff, advising them how to talk to relatives and following the right protocol.

“I see my role as normalising death, helping people understand that end of life does not mean end of care. To me the dandelion is a promise: This is what we are going to do - continue care, continue giving our best.”

The work all adds to the Trust’s contribution to the Building on the Best project, a national initiative with ten nominated Trusts across the UK looking at ways to improve end of life care.

Karen’s first job will be to deliver bereavement boxes to every ward in the Trust, which will enhance the support we give bereaved families.

L to R: Karen Harford, bereavement nurse specialist, Karen Andrews, head of nursing for Macmillan and end of life services, and Dawn Patience, director of nursing, with a bereavement box

The boxes were funded by a £10,000 donation from B&M stores and contain dandelion property bags, memory boxes and a tea set.

Karen Andrews, head of nursing for Macmillan and end of life services, said: “We wanted to set a standard for the level of support offered across the Trust. We want wards to take ownership and adapt the boxes as they go, adding in things they think are needed.

“It’s about embedding the dandelion project further into the Trust and making sure the care doesn’t stop when someone dies. A huge thank you to B&M who made this possible with their kind donation.”

A wedding box has also been created for the chaplain team, so champagne flutes, a bridal bouquet and button holes are available for short notice weddings.

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  • Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
    Nethermayne, Basildon
    Essex  SS16 5NL
    Switchboard: 01268 524900

  • The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre
    Nethermayne, Basildon
    Essex SS16 5NL
    Switchboard: 01268 524900

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