HOSPITALS have launched a new 'sunflower scheme' to help NHS staff provide more sensitive care for patients reaching the end of their lives.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has introduced the new initiative to help develop and sustain high standards of end-of-life care.

From this month, staff are being encouraged at Oxfordshire hospitals to display a sunflower image next to details of a patient who is nearing the end of their lives.

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Patients or family members will be asked permission and the hop is that the symbol will alert staff to be sensitive to the needs of the patient and their families.

The Trust's clinical programme manager Sharon Yates said: “Clinical areas are very busy places, and staff strive to provide excellent care to patients and their families at this sensitive time.

“Some of our bereaved families have identified that some staff in the clinical area did not know their relative was dying and this was distressing.

“We hope that, with permission, by displaying the sunflower, all staff will be aware and can liaise with the nurses on the ward if needed.”

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The patient will be reviewed by staff and a sunflower image can be placed on the door to alert staff to 'be aware'. The Trust said the sunflower can be removed if necessary.

It said the sunflower symbol will be used in end-of-life care initiatives, paper and reports to support its commitment to provide 'excellent care'.

The scheme was created in collaboration with staff and the Trust's End of Life Care Group.