Royal Stoke critical care nurse Holly Minshall has been in her role for just six months, but she has found a way to help bereaved families that could be rolled out across the country.
The 25-year-old puts together ‘heartbeat in a bottle’ keepsakes for bereaved families – a small test tube bottle which contains a rhythm strip of the patient’s heartbeat.
Holly, from Market Drayton, says she wanted to find a way to help people during the most difficult moments of their life and had the idea after witnessing the distress that families experience when losing a loved one.
She said: ““I have worked in critical care for just over six months and during that time I’ve felt so sad for our patients’ relatives.
“There were so many times when I held the phone to a patient whilst their relatives spoke to them, often saying their last goodbyes, and I just thought – surely there is something we can do to offer a small glimpse of light in the darkness?
“I knew about the idea of making knitted hearts for patients and then I saw something to do with printing off rhythm strips, and it all kind of came together really. I contacted different companies and people were more than willing to help.”
Holly hopes the bottles will be particularly helpful at the moment while coronavirus visiting restructions are in place.
She said: “We think it will be really nice for families to have something deeply personal and specific to their loved one which they can see, hold and touch.
“We place the ‘heartbeats’ into patients’ belongings for the family so that they are ready and waiting for them to find when they come to collect things. It’s early days yet as we’ve only just introduced the idea, but we really hope that the heartbeats will bring comfort to families at a very difficult time.”
Nurses from other critical care units are now getting in touch with Holly to ask if they can repeat the initiative at their own hospital.
Handy Labels has designed and produced the labels for free and Plastic Test Tubes LTD has donating the test tubes.
Holly has now been nominated for an Our Heroes Award in the Heroes of the NHS category for going above and beyond her usual role to try to help her patients and their families.