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Nursing Times Article: No One Should Die Alone

We are very lucky to work in partnership with the Princess Alexandra Hospital and the wonderfully literate Shahid Sardar, Associate Director of Patient Experience.  He recently wrote this article in the Nursing Times.


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A Letter to my Grandchildren

We are constantly humbled by the amazing work of the Butterfly Volunteers. A member of one of the teams recently told us about a letter he helped a patient to write to her Grandchildren in the days before she died…. We have changed names and some of the detail but the emotion comes through in every sentence…


To my dearest grandchildren,

In hospital today I was visited today by a volunteer. I asked him to write a few things down for me. We spent an hour or so thinking about you all and this is what we talked about.

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Butterfly Volunteers make a huge impact!

Since our last post on FAB NHS Stuff in September 2018 our little charity has come a long way!

Our work at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, in Harlow, continues to make a massive impact on patients, families and staff. The team of 32 Butterfly Volunteers, expertly led by their dedicated Coordinator, Nicki Harris (pictured with members of the team) have supported approximately 700 patients in the last days of life – sitting with them for an incredible 950 hours! The message that comes back from the volunteers over and over again is that patients and their loved ones are so grateful to be offered support, company and a hand to hold at this difficult time.

Read our full article at the FAB NHS Stuff website here.

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Butterfly Volunteers are “Love in Motion”

Since February 2019 Butterfly Volunteer Coordinator Emma Taylor has been working away at the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital, recruiting and training a brand new team of Butterfly Volunteers. We recently asked her to write about her experiences so far….


“I’ve worked with volunteers for most of my career and I have seen first-hand the huge impact they can have on organisations. They give up their time and skills for no other reason than because they want to and I think that’s something pretty spectacular in itself.

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Diary of an ART Butterfly Volunteer: Entry 4

Reflecting back during my time as a Butterfly Volunteer at PAH, I remember being really apprehensive the first time I knocked on a patient’s room door when there were visitors with them.

Not only do I know how difficult and heart-breaking it is to be at the bedside of a loved one when they are dying, it was important to me that they didn’t feel like I was intruding.

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Diary of an ART Butterfly Volunteer: Entry 3

We have spent 7 months at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow where our ART Butterfly Volunteers have provided 738 individual visits to 283 patients who are nearing the end of their life. One of the team, Tanya Cotter, has offered to write a short account of each visit. Here are her thoughts after her third shift:

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Palliative Care Guidelines

Back in 2015, new guidelines on end of life care were published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE – https://www.nice.org.uk/). These guidelines were designed to replace the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway (that’s for another blog post!), which was phased out in 2014.

The main recommendations from the guidelines were:

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The impact of ART on Specialist Palliative Care Team at PAH

Gill Hutchinson started working with the Specialist Palliative Care and End of Life team at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust in May 2018 as Macmillan Clinical lead.

We asked her to let us know how she finds working in a hospital with a group of specialist volunteers on hand to support her team… This is what she said…

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5th July 2018 – NHS 70th Birthday Celebrations

Jo and our team of ART Butterfly Volunteers from The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust spent the morning yesterday celebrating the 70th Birthday of the NHS, with other teams from the hospital, in The Harvey Centre, Harlow.

Joined by Robert Halfron, MP and the great and the good from the town – they cut a fantastic cake provided by the hospital catering team.

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Diary of an ART Butterfly Volunteer: Entry 2

The new cohort of ART Butterfly Volunteers are starting to visit patients at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow. One of the team, Tanya Cotter, has offered to write a short account of each visit. Here are her thoughts after her first shift:

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Butterfly Volunteer Team Meeting

Whilst Jo & her husband, Paul, were having afternoon tea at The House of Lords (yes, really!) by invitation of our esteemed Patron, Dr Peter Carter, we had a very good meeting in the Lecture Theatre, Parndon Hall, Princess Alexandra Hospital, on a sunny afternoon in early June. We missed you Jo!

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A Difficult, Heart-Warming Experience

Here’s a difficult, yet heart-warming story from four ART Butterfly Volunteers put together by Co-Ordinator Lead, Jo Corscaden.

This account documents ART Butterfly Volunteer visits to a patient who has been identified as nearing the end of his life. Each entry is written by a different volunteer –  the story highlights the teamwork and understanding of each member of our team.

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ART Butterfly Volunteer since May 2016


My name is Joy – and I very am proud to have been an ART Butterfly Volunteer since May 2016!

In my day-to-day life, I work as an holistic practitioner. I support people as they approach the end of their life. I also very much enjoy working with young adults who are living with a learning disability and volunteer as part of the bereavement team for Isabel Hospice.

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Spotlight on Shahid Sardar

Each Newsletter we will be shining the light on someone connected with our organisation, and first up it’s Shahid Sardar, Associate Director for Patient Engagement at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow.

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Butterfly Volunteers at PAH, Harlow: An Update

Since the beginning of 2018, the ART team, with Jo Corscaden at the helm, have been working with members of staff at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow to create a team of ART Butterfly Volunteers who offer support to patients at the end of life, many of whom would otherwise be alone in their final days and hours.

Our team is now 40 strong – we have run two training days, one in January, and the most recent at the end of April. Both days were very well attended and we had some lovely comments and reviews of the experience from volunteers who came along:

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Surely that’s what Hospices do?

When I speak to people about the work we do at the Anne Robson Trust (or ART) often the response is – “don’t nurses do that?”


Until you have visited an elderly care ward in an NHS Hospital – its quite likely that you would think that when people are admitted to hospital the nursing staff will look after their every need, until they are better, and discharged home in a fresh nighty or PJ’s, with rosy cheeks.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. Each nurse will have at least 8 patients under her care. They will more often than not have complex needs and require a considerable amount of “nursing” time. In a recent article in the Guardian, of the 376,000 Health Care Assistants in the NHS in England, 74% are taking on extra tasks and performing roles usually undertaken by nurses, due a lack of nursing staff.

Ward staff across the country are fire fighting on the front lines every day – 7 days a week – 365 days a year.

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Diary of a Butterfly Volunteer by Tanya Cotter

28th April 2018

The first time I heard about the Anne Robson Trust was when I read an article posted by a local newspaper on Facebook. I was so moved by the content that I applied to become an ART Butterfly Volunteer seconds after reading it. Although I knew that the NHS was stretched and had limited resources, it really shocked me that there were people dying alone.

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25 Hours and Counting…

Wow. What can I say? What an amazing two weeks we’ve had since the Anne Robson Trust Butterfly Volunteers launched on Monday 15th January.

The team, lead by my wonderful colleague and Director of Care, Jo Corscaden, has already made a hugely positive impact at The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow.

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Butterfly Volunteer Training Day – 9th Jan 2018

Today is an Exciting day today for the Anne Robson Trust – training Butterfly Volunteers to support end of life patients and their loved ones at The Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow.

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Launching the Anne Robson Trust

Launching the Anne Robson Trust – Butterfly Volunteers Project today Looking forward to training our 18 wonderful volunteers next week who will start visiting patients on 15th January! Great start to 2018!!

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