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Last offices neglected in over half of hospital deaths


I've nursed for over fifty years so I've done last offices many times. It's a privilege, and in its own way a lovely thing to do, a last ministering to someone and an unhurried way to say "Goodbye". It should not be hurried, I reckon, as it's a way of bringing a final state of repose to what may have seemed a fraught situation for all concerned. Seniors can pass on a gentle and calming ambience to novices by their example, doing last offices together with them. This helps to settle the possibly anxious mind of a newcomer to death, always something of a shock or a challenge when met for the first time. Some of the methods mentioned above are a bit crude, tying off the penis etc. It's clearly helpful to prevent leakages during transfer to the mortuary, but less dramatic methods can be devised. Off-the-job training may not be the answer, and no more sniffy top-down policy injunctions please! A culture of kindness can be grown, but each of us has to start by examining at our own hearts, lovingly, patiently and methodically. In this way hearts reach out to other hearts, they coalesce, and kindness reigns, but it doesn't happen overnight. Nurses are used to being patient, and to growing results slowly. This is our strength, I think. Affirm it in each other constantly, and it will respond by growing, but start by affirming yourself, and believing in yourself. It might sound like sentiment to some, but there needs to be room for sentiment in nursing, without that crowding out the matter-of-fact. Someone will lay me out soon, I expect. It would be nice if one of my family did it, that's a nice way to arrange matters on the ward in in the home, nurse, with your help and guidance and, as no-one has mentioned it here, I thought I would, and see what reaction it got.

Posted date

12 May, 2010

Posted time

3:08 pm