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Essex nurse hopes her end of life blanket scheme will expand to other hospitals

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A hospital nurse in Essex wants to create a “close-knit community” across the UK, both helping patients nearing the end of their lives and combating isolation among local people.

The Colchester Blanketeers charity was set up by ward sister Sarah Sands in November last year, as reported by Nursing Times.

More than 30 members have already been recruited. They meet every second Saturday at Colchester Hospital and knit blankets for end of life patients.

The charity was also set up to try and combat loneliness, offering members who can become socially isolated, a chance to come together and meet other people.

The blankets are offered to relatives after their loved one has passed away and Ms Sands, a sister on the acute cardiac ward at the hospital, is now keen to spread the idea to other parts of the country.

“It would be great to see Blanketeers groups set up across the country,” said Ms Sands, whose group members have so far knitted around 60 blankets.

“I have been in touch with staff at King’s Lynn Hospital who are keen to start a group and it would be nice to expand into nearby Ipswich Hospital too,” she said.

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust

Nurse hopes blanket scheme will expand to other hospitals

Nurse practitioner Karen Mulholland models a blanket crocheted by Emma Cathles

“The blankets give lots of comfort to people and can have quite a profound effect on both end of life patients and their relatives and loved ones,” said Ms Sands.

“We try and make the patient’s room as homely as possible and the blankets help make them less sterile,” she said.

Ms Sands added: “We encourage families to bring in their relative’s favourite toiletries and spray the blanket with an aftershave or perfume.

“That not only comforts the patient but also those left behind when they have gone, who can take them home and give them a cuddle,” she noted.

Ms Sands, who admits she does not knit herself, said: “The other side of it is the social aspect and the group is aimed at ending loneliness and getting together people that may not get out much.

“Some members come to the group and they have never knitted before, while others bring in blankets every week,” she said. “It’s incredible how the Colchester Blanketeers has taken off.”

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