Honour for nursing duo who offer comfort to bereaved

Helen Kirkwood and Karen Counsell provide a compassionate service
Helen Kirkwood and Karen Counsell provide a compassionate service

A pair of kind-hearted community nurses from Clitheroe Health Centre have been recognised for the compassionate care they provide for local patients and families.

Community Staff Nurses Helen Kirkwood and Karen Counsell, have both received the title “Bereavement Care Champion” from colleagues at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust as a result of the special care provided when a patient reaches the end-of-their life.

“Bereavement care means providing practical support to families for an event that no one anticipates or can be fully prepared for,” says new bereavement care champion, Helen.

“Although only a small number of our patients are reaching the end of their lives, this is the time when patients and families need our support more than ever – the personal touch that means maybe two or three visits a day to support patients and family members during end of life care and bereavement.”

Clitheroe resident Helen volunteered for the extra responsibility of bereavement link nurse in 2016 and is supported by colleague Karen, who has designed a collection of unique condolence cards that community nurses at Clitheroe Health Centre present to families when a loved one passes away.

“We see it as a privilege to provide treatment and care for people at the end of their lives,” says Karen. “The community staff nurses and district nurses grow very close to the families and we continue to meet regularly.”

Former St Bedes High School pupil Helen has been a community staff nurse at Clitheroe Health Centre for three-and-a-half years, returning to the Ribble Valley after working at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

Karen and Helen work alongside the bereavement care team at ELHT to provide a caring and compassionate service, offering support and reassurance, information and guidance.