Isobel Murray is Service Manager for Sutherland Care Forum which runs a befriending service, 'Friends at Home', in partnership with Highland Hospice.
She has recently started running our new initiative ‘No One Dies Alone’ in the area.
Isobel said, “When I heard about ‘No One Dies Alone’, I was really enthusiastic to get involved. It’s such a great idea and the timing of it, with so many travel restrictions in place because of Covid, made it all the more important where families may not be allowed to travel to see their loved one. It also ties in well with our existing 'Friends at Home' and 'Home from Hospital' services.”
“Many people find it difficult at any point in time to travel to sit with someone in hospital or at home during their last hours, so it was great to think that this was a gap we could fill in some way and we were pleased to have willing volunteers train to get set up.”
“It is not something that appeals to every volunteer, but it resonated well with some of the befriending volunteers we already have in place - with the result that we now have five individuals who are also NODA volunteers. We have a few more lined up for the excellent training provided by Highland Hospice, and have already formed a partnership with a local care home, Seaforth House, Golspie, who will contact me by phone to let me know if someone is needed to sit with one of their residents.”
"Although the client may be oblivious to his/her companion who sits with them during their last 24 to 48 hours of life, it means a lot to the person’s family and loved ones to know that someone was by their side.
We are simply there to hold a hand, or perhaps read to the person – offering them companionship and comfort.”
“Our first NODA visit took place in March and it was a lovely thing to be able to offer and much appreciated by the staff at the local home as well as by the next of kin of the resident. It's good to have this experience under our belt as it proved the system set in place works well for all concerned."
“We will see what demand is like in the future for this service, once restrictions ease further. We hope to be able to visit patients in our local hospitals - Lawson Memorial Hospital and Migdale Hospital in Bonar Bridge and have already mooted the idea with the Area Manager.”
“I am passionate about this service. We have an elderly population in our area and I feel it an honour to be able to provide comfort and companionship to some individuals ensuring they do not die alone.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer can contact me for further information."