There are many rituals and superstitions that don’t have scienfitic basis but take place quite a lot in nursing.
It is arguable that no greater issue is as emotive or associated with ritual as death. Countless cultures have different practices surrounding death and grief.
Hospitals are no different, through my experience there seems to be a collection of institutionalised rituals.
Some examples include when nurses open the windows in a room of a patient who has recently died. There may be some evidence-based reason for this but when I enquired, it was to ‘let the spirit go free’.
I have been present on many occasions where nurses and other staff talk to a patient who has died as if they are still living.
Nurses often phone up to have patients who have died and ask for them to be transported to “Rose Cottage” instead of the mortuary.
I am making no judgment on the value of the practices or the myriad of others I could have highlighted, I know that the NMC states that we should still care for patients in a respectful manner after their death, but I am genuinely interested to hear your stories.
What rituals have you seen during placement?
Do you think rituals like these are helpful for the nursing staff and for relatives?
Can you think of any circumstances when they haven’t been useful?