Butterfly symbol a mark of respect for dying patients
A new scheme to make sure extra respect is shown for dying patients and their relatives has been tried out at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
A picture of a butterfly is put on the door of a patient who is dying, or has died in the hospital's accident and emergency department.
The idea is to ensure staff and ambulance crews passing the area keep their voices down so the patient and relatives have peace and quiet.
It is the brainchild of accident and emergency department Sister Billi Hamnett.
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"Some people told us the department could be very noisy at times,'' she said. "If they are with relatives who are dying, or who may have just died, it is not very nice if they hear staff talking loudly outside.
"It is a signal to the ambulance crews who are coming in with patients."
Billi decided to try out the scheme after reading about a successful similar project in a Manchester hospital.
She said: "The picture used in Manchester was of a butterfly flying out of someone's hand with flowers in the background. As flowers can mean different things to different people I didn't want to use that. I wanted to keep it simple and decided to use the butterfly.''
The image is being used when needed on the relatives' rooms in the accident and emergency department and in the department's elderly decisions' unit.''
Billi said: "We have been using them for a couple of months and they seem to have been well received. I am hoping they can be used on other wards.''
Earlier this year, Billi was the driving force behind creating two specialist rooms for patients suffering from dementia in the accident and emergency department and the emergency frailty unit.
The rooms are decorated in soothing colours and have pictures of old Leicester scenes on the walls. The aim is to try to reduce stress for the patients who are often confused.
Lucy Smith, an elderly people's champion and member of the Leicester Mercury Patients' Panel, welcomed the idea of the butterfly images – providing relatives knew about it and were in agreement.
She said: "Providing the relatives are in agreement I think it is all right, but they could be quite shocked and upset to arrive at the hospital to find this.
"At the same time they might think it rather special. But staff should always respect their views. Respect, privacy and dignity should already be there from staff."