Hospital goes the extra mile to make weddings possible for patients at the end of life

Categories: Care and People & Places.

The Royal United Hospital in Bath have come up with a novel way to make it easier for patients in their last days of life to marry at short notice – creating special boxes that contain all the items necessary for a quick wedding on the ward.

The wedding boxes include decorative items like fairy lights and ceramic hearts, knitted flowers and bunting made by volunteers from The Forever Friends Appeal, a children’s wedding activity pack, and a bottle of prosecco. They also contain keepsakes like gift bags and cards, and all the items in the box can be kept by the patient’s new spouse.

Staff can also arrange for a musician to perform, and for the catering department to prepare buffet food for the ceremony.

The marriages are made possible thanks to the chaplaincy team working with the Bath Registrar’s office to support marriages under special licence.

Helen Meehan, Lead Nurse, Palliative Care and End of Life Team, explains further:

“Due to the nature of the weddings, they are often very last minute. Although we don’t support that many weddings each year, usually around ten, these boxes allow the ward teams to quickly create special memories for the couple and their families.”

The Respiratory Ward, along with colleagues from the Spiritual Care Centre, Palliative Care team and Art at the Heart, were presented with the Chief Executive’s Highly Commended Team of the Month award at our 2018/19 annual staff awards. The team went above and beyond to support not just one but two patients get married at very short notice in the same ward on the same afternoon – a huge undertaking in a very short period of time.

Helen adds:

“It was a truly moving, compassionate and memorable day for all involved. Respiratory is a very busy medical ward, so the wedding boxes really helped the ward team to make the weddings as special as possible in the short time they had.

“The team decorated the ward quiet room and the side room where the weddings were to take place with bunting and fairy lights and some extra decorations that staff members brought in. Susie Slade the ward manager arranged wedding cakes, worked with the catering team to provide refreshments and food for the couples and their families, and for Frankie Simpkins from Art at the Heart to come and sing. All of these extra touches made the weddings so very special and moving for all those involved.”

For more information visit Royal United Hospitals Bath