'Incredible' Royal Stoke staff praised for supporting dying veteran

Ward 222 (Respiratory) and the UHNM Armed Forces Champion Team with their awards -Credit:UHNM
Ward 222 (Respiratory) and the UHNM Armed Forces Champion Team with their awards -Credit:UHNM

Caring hospital staff helped to organise a military funeral for a brave army veteran. And the team at Royal Stoke University Hospital have been praised for the compassionate end-of-life care they provided to both the former soldier and his heartbroken family.

It started after the team learned one of their patients nearing the end of his life was not only a veteran but Burma Star holder - a medal given to those who served in the Burma Campaign. Subsequently advanced nurse practitioner Samantha Hanna and ward manager Gail Knowles enlisted the help of University Hospital of North Midland's Armed Forces Champion Team.

Working in partnership with Newcastle-based Tri Services Veterans Support Centre, the teams were not only able to offer additional support to the gentleman and his family, but help arrange a military funeral after he sadly passed away. Both Ward 222 (respiratory) and the UHNM Armed Forces Champion Team have received CEO awards as recognition for their care.

Samantha said: "After being in our care for two weeks, along with his wife and stepdaughter, we sadly jointly decided to put this gentleman onto end-of-life care. His wife visited every day, and over toast one Friday it came out in our conversation that he was a former soldier.

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"I thought we did something for veterans, so was put in touch with David Smith from the UHNM Armed Forces Champion Team. David and his team got back straight away and started to provide additional support. The Armed Forces Champions Team were incredible for this gentleman and his family, and came in over the weekend to help with additional support, and along with the Tri Services Veterans Support Centre, later helped the gentleman’s family to organise a military funeral for him after he passed away.

"It really was an eye opener, and following this, our ward has signed up as Armed Forces Champions, and have received extra training to better support members of the Armed Forces Community. Soon after, we were caring for another veteran from the RAF, who was not engaging with oxygen therapy and wanted to give up on everything.

"We referred to him once again to the Armed Forces Champion Team. Soon after, a UHNM nurse who is also a serving member of the RAF, came up to the ward. The gentleman was elated with this support and somebody to talk to about serving in the Armed Forces. He was brilliant the next day, much more responsive to treatment- this scheme is changing people’s lives."

David Smith, transformation project manager and Armed Forces Champion at UHNM, said: “It was great to receive this award on behalf of the UHNM Armed Forces Champion Team. As a team, we continue to provide bespoke training to our staff, raise awareness and additional support relating to our Veteran Aware Accreditation requirements.

"Ward 222 have demonstrated that they are truly committed to supporting our Veterans and Armed Forces Community patients and this is a fantastic example of going the extra mile to support those that have sacrificed so much through their Armed Forces service."

Samantha added: "I feel really humbled to receive this award - something I didn’t expect. It’s so important to get those final moments with our patients right. We celebrate people coming into the world, and need to be equally compassionate about when we leave it too."

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