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No One Dies Alone

Establish a program in which a volunteer is called to be with a dying person while they actively die in a hospital.

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

This idea is designed for both the dying and the yet-to-die volunteer. It allows us to serve those people who need us in those last few moments, without taking a nurse away from his/her duties. The volunteer would be served by knowing that s/he was with someone in this most important moment, and the person who died would be served by having someone with them during those moments.

There would be a list of people who were willing to be called any time of the day or night to be with a person who was actively dying.  The nurse in the hospital would notify the nursing supervisor that a death was imminent and there was no available family or friends to ease the transition for the dying person. The volunteer would come into the hospital and sit with the dying person until they died, holding their hand or talking to them or singing to them in those last moments. 

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

I would love to try to organize this through our adult ICUs and spiritual care services. The person doesn't necessarily need to be a pastor or rabbi, but I would think that a spiritual member of the hospital team would be able to coordinate these activities quite well and with compassion and grace.

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

How to organize volunteers---how to advertise it without seeming morbid.

Tell us about your work experience:

I've been an RN for 24 years, from management to bedside nursing. I currently work in an NICU as a staff nurse; have worked in adult ICUs and know that when people die, they sometimes die alone because the staff does not have the resources to be with that person.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lois Perelson-Gross

Question: Would some of the organizations who now train "death doulas" be possible partners?

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