Felicity Warner, founder and CEO of Soul Midwives, a movement which offers holistic and spiritual support to the dying and their families, hosts an “army” of almost 1,000 Soul Midwives working in community, hospices, care homes and within the NHS in community hospitals. Doctors, nurses, clergy and carers have also been trained.
She said that while patients are not necessarily able to communicate while on ventilators, their relatives are recording soothing music and personal messages to play to them at their bedside.
“We have staff on wards who have gone to the patient with a phone wrapped in plastic and enabled them to hear their loved ones speak,” she said. “I think the rules vary from hospital to hospital regarding what is allowed on a ward.”
“People are out of their mind with anxiety at the moment. So to be able to reassure them that their loved ones are being looked after is so important. They ask us what they should say, and we say just reassure them that they’re being really looked after, to relax as much as possible, and that they’re always in your hearts.”
“I would say give it a few goes, record it a few times on your phone and pick the one you’re really comfortable with and say things that really come from the heart. Maybe even include a piece of music that they love because hearing is the last sense to go.”
“Think of it as a chance to get beyond the machines, and high-tech equipment in the hospital and get straight to the heart of that person.”
“Afterwards, people just come back to us and say that it has made such a difference to be able to make a connection with their loved one when they can’t see or touch them. It gives them a direct link which is so moving.”
Meanwhile, nurses who are working flat out across hospital wards say they welcome any actions within the government’s social distancing guidelines that could help dying patients feel less isolated.