VOLUNTARY NIGHT NURSES MEAN NO ONE HAS TO DIE ALONE

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No one should have to die alone, which is why voluntary night nurses in the Red Cross sit with the dying when nursing staff and relatives are unable to. The idea for this service originated on the Island of Bornholm in 2004 and has spread throughout Denmark.

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The staff at nursing homes and hospitals continually provide care but do not always have the time to sit at the bedside of someone who is dying. Particularly at night, finding staff can be difficult. In 2004 a retired nurse in Bornholm set about solving the problem by forming a corps of volunteer night nurses. She then contacted the Red Cross and the service has since spread nationwide.

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If a night nurse is required, staff from nursing homes, hospitals and home care can ask for help from volunteer night nurses. The Red Cross has 82 groups throughout the country with more than 1,200 volunteer women and men. They sat by the bedside of 1,932 people in 2017, often in a retirement home but also in private homes and hospitals. DaneAge Association also runs a nationwide service, established in 2010, with 630 volunteers. In 2017, its night nurses spent 9,400 hours watching over more than 550 people. Demand for their help continues to grow. Night nurses are not allowed to administer treatment or replace paid staff in any way. They simply represent a compassionate presence, providing comfort and company to the dying. Night nurses hold hands, talk gently or read aloud. Families can also request the services of a night nurse, allowing them a chance to rest knowing that their loved one is not alone.

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