No One Dies Alone at Swedish
No One Dies Alone (NODA) provides bedside volunteers who offer a reassuring presence to dying patients who would otherwise be alone. No One Dies Alone provides a dignified death to individuals who have no family or close friends to sit with them at the end of life. At Swedish, more than 300 deaths happen each year and sometimes they die without family present. Through this program, we are able to provide a compassionate presence for all our patients.
One Family's Story
By Audra Mincey
"Mom's greatest wish was to go back to her volunteer days. To know that a volunteer was by her bed side is so amazing."
January 6th, 2011 was a hard day for Nancy Lauth. Her 86-year old mother, Eileen (mother and daughter pictured left), was taken to Swedish Medical Center after suffering a severe stroke. "She had already gone into a coma by the time I arrived at the hospital," explains Nancy. Living hours away, Nancy's stay had to be cut short so she could tend to her horses. Not wanting to leave her mother alone, she called on NODA to assist her. "It was a waiting game, I needed someone there to be with her, it was just such a relief if I didn’t get back in time that she wouldn’t be alone," says Nancy.
NODA was brought to Swedish in 2010. NODA is a group made up of volunteers who are notified when someone is alone and near the end of life. "It speaks to our humanity to have somebody there to connect with a person during their last minutes on earth; it's just amazing," says program chair, Nan Morgan.
Volunteer Karin Ostlund was called in to be with Eileen. "I’m honored that I can sit in for families that can’t be there by their bedside," explains Karin. Once Nancy left the hospital for the night, Karin sat with Eileen and read to her for several hours. "It made me feel good knowing she wasn't alone," says Karin.
Later that evening, Eileen passed away with Karin at her side. Eileen had been a volunteer herself at Swedish for more than 30 years. "Mom's greatest wish was to go back to her volunteer days. To know that a volunteer was by her bed side is so amazing," says Nancy who received the chance to say her goodbyes before leaving that night. Karin says it's a privilege to help people during a time of need. The Lauth family couldn't have been more grateful for NODA. "The program helped us both through it, I'm so thankful we had this option," says Nancy.
More Information About NODA
When to request a No One Dies Alone volunteer?
Patients who are on comfort care with Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) status, expected to die within two to three days without local family or friends.
How to request a No One Dies Alone volunteer?
Once you have identified a patient who may die alone, please activate the program by paging the No One Dies Alone volunteer coordinator. In the "Emergin" pager system found on the intranet:
- Type in "No" in the search box
- Select the "No One Dies Alone Group" (Do NOT use No One Dies Alone 1, 2 or 3)
- Type in message including contact info
- Hit send
- The nursing supervisors can assist with instructions for using the "Emergin" pager text message system
What if I notice my patient may not make it through the night?
Volunteers are available to sit with your patients at any time of the day or night. They have graciously given of their time and understand that death knows no time frame and that they may be called in the middle of the night. We encourage you to activate the program as soon as you notice your patient nearing the end of life and needs someone to sit with them.
What is my role now that the No One Dies Alone volunteer is with my patient?
The volunteers provide no medical care and are there to sit with the patient, perhaps hold their hand or read to them. Your responsibility to care for the patient continues. Volunteers may assist with any non-medical comfort measures as directed by the patient’s nurse.
How do I become a No One Dies Alone volunteer?
All Swedish employees or volunteers are eligible to participate in the program. Any volunteer hours are in addition to your normal work hours. An orientation class is required before becoming a volunteer. A schedule of orientation classes are on the Swedish intranet.
What is the time commitment?
A volunteer must be available for up to a four hour shift to provide comfort to a patient. You may volunteer for as many shifts as you would like.