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Dignifying the hand over of personal possessions should the deceased die in hospital, a care home or a hospice

The handing over of personal possessions to loved ones following a death

Photo of Finlay Love
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

Often when a person dies outside their home environment, family or friends are given their loved ones possessions they had with them at their place of death. This could be their glasses, jewellery, a watch, money and clothing. From findings done within the NHS England, personal possessions such as jewellery, money etc. are passed to loved ones in a see through plastic jiffy bag with clothes (sometimes soiled) bundled into black bin liners. This is a very impersonal approach.

It would add so much dignity if the patients family and friends were advised in advance to bring a suitable receptacle for the deceased possessions or for hospitals, care homes and hospices to consult with the family if they want the deceased clothing and provide a simple black cloth bag for the more personal belongings. You wouldn't hand over the deceased ashes after a cremation in a bin liner.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

This for me as End of Life Project Manager working within the NHS England is what I would describe as a quick win with a relatively low cost to implement. From personal experience of receiving my late fathers possessions following a fatal car crash, it struck me at the time how insensitive it was as a signed to receive my fathers watch, glasses (broken following the impact) wallet and cufflinks in a plastic jiffy bag. Something you would normally experience when released from prison.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

As End of Life Project Manger I would welcome any innovative ideas that could be implemented as part of the pathway improvement. It could be something fairly small such as the idea I am proposing to another idea of fast tracking the collection of death certificates for relatives and waiving parking charges occurred within the collection

Tell us about your work experience:

I have been working for various NHS Organisations on ways of improving the patient pathway as an independent consultant. This includes working for various NHS Hospital Trusts in Southern England to more recently NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups responsible for commissioning local health services

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual


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Photo of Dawn Gross

I am so grateful for your attention to this very important detail all too many people experience in the hospital.  I have given this idea a lot of thought and wonder about the use of volunteers creating cloth/quilted bags from donated clothes. Often, volunteers create knitted blankets and hats for patents in hospitals and in hospice, we have volunteers who use donated clothing to create memory bears.  This could be a more personal and gentle way of remembering while our grief is our own, we are not alone in the experience of grief and many people are just waiting to find ways to be of support and make a difference.

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