TWO specialist care workers have been taken on at Airedale Hospital to help look after patients in the final days of their lives.

Tracy Browne and Joanne Hunter have been appointed as part of a one-year project, backed by Macmillan Cancer Support.

The charity has invested £40,000 in the initiative, designed to improve the end-of-life care for people who die at the Steeton hospital.

Although the money has been provided through Macmillan’s £5 million coronavirus support fund, the care co-ordinators will help patients irrespective of their illness.

Working alongside ward teams, they will help to keep patients comfortable and ensure they have whatever they need – including meeting their emotional and spiritual requirements.

And they will provide support to families.

Joanne, from Sutton-in-Craven, a health care support worker, has already worked at the hospital for five years.

She said: “What attracted me to the new role was the fact that you can really make a difference in those final days for people.

“At the end of life the most important thing is for the patients to be as comfortable as they can be and for it to be as much as possible about what they want.

“We try to arrange anything within our powers that the patient wants.”

Tracy, from Keighley, previously worked at Manorlands hospice in Oxenhope for four years.

She said: “The most important thing about the new role is the support we can give. We will be able to go and sit with patients and check in with them and their families every day. And it’s not just for patients with Covid-19 – it is for patients at the end of their life on any ward.”

Lisa Spivey, Macmillan partnership manager for Yorkshire, said the charity was delighted to be working in partnership with Airedale NHS Foundation Trust.

She added: “At Macmillan we’ve seen how choice and control at the end of a person’s life has a lasting and meaningful impact on patient care, as well as having a positive effect on the experience of friends and family left behind.

“We hope that the introduction of these roles will support Macmillan in our goal of being there for everyone facing cancer from the time they are first diagnosed.

“We are reliant on people’s generous donations to continue to support people living with cancer and they need us now more than ever.”

Linda Wilson, consultant in palliative care at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, says: “This is the first time we have had dedicated staff whose sole purpose is to provide comfort to people who are dying in hospital.”

It is hoped the roles will be maintained after the initial 12-month period.