Angela Watts: “A Home-like Feeling”
Angela Watts, an ICU nurse, created “comfort boxes” to help support patients and families struggling with the last stages of life. The comfort box is a small gift box containing items a family might need at the patient’s bedside, such as hand cream, lip balm, mints, tissues, tea bags, a booklet about the dying process, a small token with a powerful message, and a silk pouch that can be used to keep a lock of their loved one’s hair.
But Angela’s program goes a step further. “We want to create an environment that gives a home-like feeling,” she says. So the patient and family also receive a handmade quilt, a colorful pillow, and a journal to record their thoughts. “The comfort box is not just a tangible item—it’s a mindset,” she continues. “We want that last interaction to be special and home-like.” Once the patient passes, the family is encouraged to take the items home as a remembrance of that last time. “They love it and are very appreciative.”
“I’ve been a critical care nurse for 23 years, and I’m blessed to care for end-of-life-patients,” she says. “Death can be beautiful, and I feel very honored to be there at such a special time. As nurses, we’re fortunate we can share that time and encourage patients and family to look at each other, hold hands, forgive, and say what they need to say.” Nurses can tailor the environment so it’s warmer and more personal. “This program is very close to my heart,” says Angela. “I feel so fortunate that the hospital supports it.”