South Eastern Sydney Local Health District connect families with hearts

A small yet powerful gesture created by the social workers at South Eastern Sydney Local Health District is proving to help mend broken hearts.

In the aim of assisting patients and their families, the team is handing out matching knitted and crochet 'kindness' hearts so that people can hold onto them while their loved one is in hospital, or after they have died.

The hearts were used at the peak of the pandemic when no visitors were allowed in hospitals, and are still spreading the love throughout the wards.

Acting Head of Social Work at St George Hospital, Anastasia Anastasiou said the 'Holding Hearts' initiative, involves patient and a loved one each having matching hearts to hold onto during what can be a sad and lonely time.

"For patients who can't have visitors this has been such a nice way for them to have a connecting bond with their family members and this is definitely heartfelt healthcare," she said.

The hearts were initially given to patients in the ICU, cancer and renal wards, where patients cannot have visitors because of restrictions.

The initiative has been particularly emotionally supportive for families of end of life patients.

"The kindness hearts give people a tangible item to hold onto to feel connected with their loved one and through this can assist with grieving as they provide a continued bond with their loved one", Ms Anastasiou said.

"This program shines a light on the good will and kindness of people from the community who wanted to contribute and help. We had hearts sent to us by a seven year old girl who knitted them with her grandmother."

Sutherland Hospital has also joined the program, providing comfort to families during a difficult time.

"The holding hearts are a lovely way for families to feel connected and will provide comfort even after a loved one passes away," Head of Social Work at Sutherland Hospital, Emma Middlemiss, said.

Rosalinde Davidson's husband James (Jim) of Engadine died of cancer in September this year at St George Hospital. Mrs Davidson still holds onto her kindness heart each day and it was left with her husband after his passing.