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Exeter A&E staff giving ‘bags of comfort to patients in need’

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Clinical staff from the accident and emergency department at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have started a campaign to “bring a little extra comfort to patients who need it”.

The Comfort Exeter campaign is intended to provide emergency clothing and essential personal items for vulnerable patients or those in need of extra support, though well enough to leave A&E.

“We were conscious of the feelings of helplessness staff members were experiencing on discharging some of these patients”

Jen Turner-Steel

The initiative includes a new clothing bank with a supply of emergency items for patients whose own clothes may have needed to be removed or cut away while receiving treatment.

It also comprises “comfort bags” that contain essential items, such as toiletries and socks, to support vulnerable patients with their ongoing health needs and provide comfort and dignity after discharge. The comfort bags contain the following items:

  • Waterproof poncho
  • Thermal socks
  • Travel size wet wipes or flannel
  • Travel pack of tissues
  • Travel Size toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Small bar of soap
  • Sanitary products
  • Information about local services

Comfort Exeter was developed by A&E staff keen to introduce initiatives to improve not only the care received by patients while in their department but also their holistic needs after leaving it, said the trust.

Wanting to “do their bit”, the emergency team worked with the local community to jointly come up with a solution to help care for vulnerable people who need a little bit of extra support.

The comfort bags, which also include information about local services including soup kitchens, will be given as a one-off donation to patients in real need who meet the department’s criteria.

The trust said the campaign had already received “fantastic” support from local organisations, including churches, that had donated items and helped to fund the supply of the comfort bags.

Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Exeter A&E staff giving ‘bags of comfort to patients in need’

The contents of a comfort bag

Staff nurse Jen Turner-Steel said: “We began considering the concept of comfort bags early this year when we were caring for some particularly distressed patients in need.

“We were conscious of the feelings of helplessness staff members were experiencing on discharging some of these patients, and also acutely aware of the needs of our patients to feel valued and still human regardless of the circumstances they may be facing,” she said.

Ms Turner-Steel added: “The project in essence is very simple; a set of dry clothes and a bag of a few basic essentials to help a person on their way, yet due to its simplicity I feel we will be able to have an impact on our patients lives that we are not really able to fathom.

“To give a person hope in a particularly dark time in their lives may, in fact, be lifesaving,” she said.

Trust medical director Professor Adrian Harris said: “This is a really admirable initiative which will be of real benefit to some of our most vulnerable patients when they leave department.

“The ED team have displayed genuine empathy and compassion by developing this project and I am very proud of their efforts,” he added.

Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Exeter A&E staff giving ‘bags of comfort to patients in need’

Staff nurse Jen Turner-Steelwith a comfort bag

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