Health, disability & well-being

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000


The East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals’ Charity is the registered charity of the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust. Our aim is to improve patient care for all patients at the Lister Hospital (Stevenage), the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Welwyn Garden City), Hertford County Hospital (Hertford) and Mount Vernon Cancer Centre (Middlesex).

One of our main objectives is to improve the support we provide to patients who are nearing the end of their life. To do this, we need to counter the deepest and most challenging issues affecting end of life care, this includes social isolation. It is estimated by Age UK that one million elderly people are socially isolated. Among those isolated, many have life limiting conditions and consequently die alone. It has been highlighted that between 15 and 20 patients a month die in The Lister Hospital without any family or friends present. Our Butterfly Volunteer project aims to end this.

To this end, the vision for the Butterfly Volunteer project is to provide one to one compassionate listening, comfort and companionship for patients who have been identified by the multidisciplinary team as being in the last few days and hours of life, particularly for those with few or no visitors who would otherwise be alone. The emphasis is on providing emotional support by ‘being there’, along with alerting the staff to physiological needs of the patient. Above all, the Butterfly Volunteers can ensure the patient knows they are cared for, valued and are not having to face the prospect of dying in isolation.

This is not your typical befriender service; we have, via a volunteer co-ordinator, recruited and trained our volunteers to a high level, so that they feel confident to visit end of life patients and support families at this difficult time. In addition, volunteers are selected based on the criteria that they have prior experience in end of life care as well as essential communication and interpersonal skills. All volunteers are given an extensive one day training programme covering all aspects of end of life care, and most of the team have now undergone the training to become Dementia Friends.

We piloted the project from May-July this year and it was an unqualified success. The 17 volunteers recruited have subsequently made 373 visits to end of life patients. Such was the impact that the project had on patients, families, staff and volunteers that it won the East & North Herts Celebration of Excellence Patient Experience Award 2016. With funding we can roll this project out on a permanent basis, put the service on a sustainable footing and provide support to more end of life patients and their families.

If we are to receive funding for this project then we would aim to provide the following measurable outcomes over the next year:

• Make 2000 visits to end of life patients.
• Provide over 1000 hours of emotional support to patients.
• Increase our volunteer base from 17 volunteers to 30 volunteers and provide them with ongoing training and support.
• Work with other NHS Trusts to share ideas of best practice and to highlight the emotional and clinical outcomes of the project.

To do this, we need to secure funding for a full time volunteer coordinator. We also need to provide uniforms for the volunteers so that they stand out when on the wards and we need to cover volunteer expenses. This equates to £25,000 of funding. Sustainability is always at the forefront of our mind; we would, if successful in securing funding, be able to publicise the project to a large local and national audience, as well as making the project more scalable and in turn making it attractive to charitable Trust sources in the future.

East and North Herts Hospitals Charity

Moment of Pride

We are proud that in a short space of time, we have put together a group of volunteers who have the best interests of the patients, families and staff at the heart of everything they do. These volunteers visit dying patients 7 days a week, and make a fundamental difference to everyone they meet.

Location: Stevenage