Caring for patients on their final journey

When a patient reaches the end of their life, our mortuary staff are on hand to ensure that they are cared for with respect and dignity on their final journey.

Mortuary Manager Jo Smith and her colleagues Rocio Cubero and Gareth Walsh work tirelessly to ensure that patients who have died are looked after with kindness and compassion until they are able to be taken to a funeral director before their funeral.

Milton Keynes’ hospital mortuary has space for 115 deceased. In addition to former patients, the team take care of people who have died within the local area, in cases where they may need to be cared for following a death through an accident, or where a post-mortem may be required.

The mortuary welcomes visits from loved ones of the deceased and there has been extensive refurbishment of the area to ensure that there is a pleasantly decorated waiting room and a viewing area where they can visit their relatives for a final time.

Jo explains: ‘We have a range of books and leaflets to help people make sense of what has happened, especially for children who may struggle to understand the loss of a loved one. We also have memory boxes for relatives to take away to store items that remind them of the person who has died.

‘Not everyone wants to visit their deceased friend or relative in the mortuary, but for those who do, the team make their loved one as presentable as possible to help the grieving process for those who come to say farewell.’

Jo and her team work closely with MKUH’s bereavement team and are in regular contact with the coroner’s office and pathologists in cases where post mortems or inquests may be required to confirm the cause of death. They also liaise extensively with funeral directors in Milton Keynes and other areas to enable loved ones to be released to them as soon as possible to accommodate any particular faith or religious requirements. They have also been involved in running MKUH’s Death Café, an occasional and informal opportunity for families and friends to meet up with professionals involved in end of life and after-death care, with the aim of making the subjects easier to understand and discuss.

‘We feel very privileged to work in this area, making sure that loved ones are cared for after their death. Kindness and compassion is paramount to us, for both the deceased person and any relatives who may wish to visit,’ adds Jo.