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"Journey blanket" provides dignity for end of life at Bethanie

Residents at Bethanie Kingsley Aged Care Home have created a hand-quilted blanket to place over the deceased to provide dignity and respect for residents who have passed away at the Home.

Bethanie Kingsley Chaplain Annelize Jensen said the idea came from residents, who wanted to give their friends a dignified final send off from the aged care home.

“The residents wanted to make the blanket to provide a more peaceful and colourful item to place over the those who had passed on, and taken out the front door – the same way they came in.”

Annelize said she bought all the material but made sure that the residents had their say in the colours and patterns of the “journey blanket”.

“While we did the sewing, we also used the opportunity to talk about death, funerals, and families,” she said.

“During this time, a lot of the residents made peace with the fact that death was going to happen to everyone at some point and acknowledged that the blanket would not only be used by their fellow residents, but also themselves one day.”

Bethanie Kingsley resident Rhonda said she wanted to participate in creating the blanket because she didn’t like the black body bag and wanted something to contribute to a more peaceful and respectful send-off for those she resides with.

“I just felt that the blanket would be lovely,” she said.

“The blanket will carry you on your journey to the next place.”

When asked about what dying with dignity meant to her, Rhonda said it was something that she struggled to express but reflected on her experience as a former nurse.

“I was a nurse myself and saw many patients pass away and had a different experience with each one,” Rhonda said.

“One situation was very sad because the family kept arguing while their loved one was about to pass away, and I declared and hoped that when my time came that my family wouldn’t carry on like that.”

The double-sided blanket – one side for men and one for women – took approximately one month to complete.

“The activity gave everyone a sense of purpose and now we talk about dying like it is part of life,” Annelize said.

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