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A faithful friend at the end

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Western Sussex Hospitals Foundation Trust helped a dying patient see out her final days with memories of her faithful friend.

A patient was in the last days of her life on an elderly care ward at Worthing Hospital and expressed to Rosemary Campbell, the Staff Nurse on duty, how she really missed her pet dog that she knew she would never see again.

Rosemary said: “She was not sleeping well, and she was quite concerned, and she kept mentioning she had a dog.”

The nurse discovered it had been sent to a kennels but the patient did not know which one.

Undeterred, and at the end of a long night shift, Rosemary set about tracking the animal down.

She called round a number of local kennels and, having discovered where it was, she drove there in her own time, took a picture, got it printed and framed – only then going to sleep after her night shift.

That same night she returned to the ward with a gift for the patient – the picture of her beloved dog.

“She had tears in her eyes,” said Rosemary, “and she kept stroking the picture.”

“She kept that picture on her table until unfortunately she passed away, but at least she was comforted by having her dog with her.”

Rosemary Campbell

Rosemary Campbell

Rosemary told no-one, only the ward sister who shared this moving story with the Director of Nursing as she was doing a walkabout.

Care, compassion and total commitment to meeting the needs of a dying patient run through the whole journey and were all delivered in Rosemary’s personal time.

Cathy Stone, Director of Nursing and Patient Safety, said: “Staff Nurse Rosemary did something really genuinely amazing which didn’t require many specialist years of training or advanced technologies.”

“It was a unique response to the needs of the patient and, whilst she couldn’t save her life, she could enable the patient to feel safe and live out her last days contented and at peace.”

“Rosemary won our Employee of the Month award and her story has touched many staff at the Trust.”

Marie Batey, Head of Acute and Older People at NHS England, added: “We are often said to be a nation of animal lovers, however this is the first time that the Story of the Month competition has featured one of our four-legged friends. Rosemary’s story stands out because she acted directly on her human responses to a fellow dog lover – a deeply compassionate response.  I know that this account will ring true with many other colleagues across our professional groups and it reminds us of the quote that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” 


If this story has made you think about sharing your own experiences for Story of The Month, find out how here:

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