Report finds family rooms should be the norm in all new hospital builds

Report finds family rooms should be the norm in all new hospital builds

Family rooms should be the norm, and not a luxury, in all new hospital builds as part of a move to improve end-of-life care, a new report has found.

These rooms should provide sources of “positive distraction” such as TVs, books, tea and coffee-making facilities, as well as “good Wi-Fi that supports browsing and the ability to use video conferencing such as Skype or Zoom to connect to family abroad”.

The integration of docking stations and charging units for electronic devices is also recommended in the report which analyses the impact of Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF)/HSE Design & Dignity (D&D) programme launched in 2010, to improve all aspects of end-of-life and bereavement care in Irish hospitals.

The report, Evaluation of the Design and Dignity Programme, by a team from the School of Nursing and Midwifery in University College Cork (UCC), looked at 18 of 40 projects, where physical spaces were transformed so that families could feel respected when dealing with bereavement.

The mortuary at Mercy University Hospital in Cork was one of the projects included in the research.

Through the programme, it has changed from a “semi-derelict” building adjacent to waste disposal where staff felt “dignified care was not possible” to a respectful environment, decorated with plants and a water feature, featuring two viewing rooms.

The report found family rooms provided “an oasis of calm” for families at a difficult time.

It makes a number of recommendations in relation to future design of mortuaries and family rooms including:

  • when planning the location of a mortuary consideration should be given to a location which is not adjacent to the hospital’s rubbish processing area or supplies depot;
  • a hangout area for younger children or teenagers with electronic charging facilities;
  • mortuaries should provide for all customs and rituals where possible and multidenominational ‘packs’ should be easily accessible at each site;
  • protected parking spaces are essential.

In relation to family rooms, it said there should be two types: one at the heart of each ward for families that need a break from the bedside; a second larger room off the ward which is fully-serviced and self-contained for families to stay over, shower and have sustenance.

IHF CEO Sharon Foley said their vision was that “every adult, paediatric and maternity hospital in Ireland has warm and welcoming spaces to enable dignity and respect for patients and families facing dying, death and bereavement”.

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