Critical care nurse introduces Heartbeat in a Bottle for grieving families

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Critical care nurse Holly Minshall has introduced an innovative way for relatives to remember their loved ones. ‘Heartbeat in a Bottle’ is a small test tube bottle which contains a print-out of a patient’s heart rhythm and is given to the family as a special keepsake when they pass away. Holly had the idea after witnessing the distress that families experience when losing a loved one, especially whilst separated from them due to Coronavirus visiting restrictions. Nurses from other critical care units are now getting in touch with Holly to ask if they can repeat the initiative at their own trusts.

Holly said: “I have worked in Critical Care for just over six months, and during that time I’ve felt so sad for our patients’ relatives. There were so many times when I held the phone to a patient whilst their relatives spoke to them, often saying their last goodbyes, and I just thought – surely there is something we can do to offer a small glimpse of light in the darkness? I knew about the idea of making knitted hearts for patients and then I saw something to do with printing off rhythm strips, and it all kind of came together really. I contacted different companies and people were more than willing to help.

“We think it will be really nice for families to have something deeply personal and specific to their loved one which they can see, hold and touch. We place the ‘heartbeats’ into patients’ belongings for the family so that they are ready and waiting for them to find when they come to collect things. It’s early days yet as we’ve only just introduced the idea, but we really hope that the heartbeats will bring comfort to families at a very difficult time.”

Our very grateful thanks go to Handy Labels for designing and producing the labels for free and Plastic Test Tubes LTD for donating the test tubes