Honouring our late patients

St George Hospital’s ICU staff know how precious life is and have introduced special practices to honour patients who have passed away.

‘The Pause’ is a voluntary, planned moment of silence held after the death of a patient and an ‘Honour Walk’ is held for those patients who intend on becoming an organ and tissue donor as they make their way to the Operating Theatre.

By participating in these moments, staff take the time for reflection and self-compassion by stopping to honour the patient’s life.

The processes, which are very popular overseas, were introduced to the hospital by Professor Frank van Haren, Director Intensive Care Unit, St George Hospital and the palliative care committee.

“After any death in the ICU, the staff take a moment to reflect on the patient’s life. One of the reasons this is important is that it also supports staff,” Mr van Haren said.

“When you pause together you share the emotion as well. It can be pretty tough when someone passes away, especially if you’ve taken care of the patient for a while and cared for their family.”

Clare Loveday, Nurse Manager, ICU St George Hospital, acknowledged that everyone reacts to death differently.

“Every patient who passes is honoured and people have the choice to participate or not. If it’s something that’s uncomfortable for a staff member they don’t need to participate. Everyone has their own things going on in their life,” Ms Loveday said.

The Pause allows a group of people from different backgrounds to share an experience of honouring both the life lost and the care team’s efforts. It enables a sense of closure and promotes self-care by allowing staff the time for personal reflection to acknowledge and process the patient’s death.

The Honour Walk can provide donor families, as well as the members of the care team, the opportunity to honour the intent and generosity of the decision of an individual becoming an organ and tissue donor.

It is a symbol of unity, care and compassion for families and their care teams. An Honour Walk is a quiet, yet profound and powerful way to give a loved one a hero’s goodbye and to give thanks for a gift that will save and enhance the lives of many.

The Pause at St George Hospital