Hospital sanctuary shortlisted for award

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PM Group, a Tallaght-based project management and engineering company upgraded what had been a cluttered visitor room in Tallaght hospital into a restful space to which relatives could retreat for much-needed time out from the bedside of a dying loved one.

The company is now shortlisted for the Chambers Ireland Corporate Social Responsibility Awards which Chambers Ireland established to “recognise the work carried out by companies to improve the lives of their employees and to enhance the civic environment in which they operate”.

The room, named The Sanctuary after a competition among staff to come up with a name to describe the space, was officially opened in May and has since become something of a tranquil oasis for many families.

Ann Hickey, nurse manager and End of Life Coordinator at Tallaght Hospital spoke to about the long journey to create The Sanctuary.

Ann said that the room on the William Stokes Ward had been in use for years as a room for families who wanted to be close to relatives nearing death.

“There was a huge wardrobe in it so a room that was already small was crowded. The walls were very dreary, the bed had been in use for ten years and everything about it was tired,” she recalls.

“It wasn’t welcoming, it wouldn’t feed your soul at all. It wasn’t a particularly nice design but we had no money to do it up.”

Lack of funds weren’t the only challenge – doctors in the busy hospital who also needed space had their eye on the room too.

But Ann, who has been doing the work of End of Life Coordinator in addition to her own full time nurse manager role, was determined that the space should be kept for relatives.

“Families of people who are quite close to dying might want to get a sleep or a couple of hours in peace. A lot of families just want a quiet space but they wouldn’t want to go too far,” she says.

The PM Group was introduced to staff at the hospital in 2013 but initially it was difficult to get anyone to take on the contract work. The project became “re-energised”, says Ann when the head of PM met the head of another company, BAM which agreed to do the contract work.

Most of the work was done for free  – and the room, which is now The Sanctuary began to take shape. It was completely re-designed and re-decorated, the old furnishings taken out and new furniture installed with the work completed in April of this year.

“It’s a room where you could sit and dream. It has a sofa-bed, an easy chair, a small table with some chairs, cups and saucers and a kettle for making tea and an en suite,” says Ann.

“There is no TV and no clocks. It looks out onto the garden and the pictures on the wall are of nature, you can just lose yourself.”

With that project completed, Ann continues to co-ordinate the Irish Hospice Foundation’s Hospice Friendly Hospitals programme in Tallaght in addition to her job as nurse manager. While no funds have been made available for the post of full time coordinator, Ann is passionate about pushing for the best end-of-life care for patients and families.

“I want Tallaght patients to have just as good end of life care as people in other hospitals,” she says.

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