The Solace Room was funded under the Design & Dignity Grants scheme operated and co-funded by the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) and the Health Service Executive (HSE). A grant of €48,240 was awarded for the project.
The scheme aims to transform the way hospital spaces are designed for people at the end of life, and to set the standard for other hospitals to follow. Ann Phelan TD, Minister of State at the Departments of Agriculture, Food and Marine was on hand to officially open the facility.
The room provides a dedicated space for bereaved parents following the loss of a baby prematurely or the sudden death of a full term child. It also serves as a private space where bad news can be broken, for example in the event of a baby being diagnosed with a congenital abnormality.
Prior to the creation of the room, bad news relating to a foetal abnormality or pregnancy loss was broken to patients in an office or the room where the ultrasound was carried out. The Solace Room is situated away from the inpatient and delivery suite area, affording sensitivity to parents at a very difficult time.
Anne Slattery, General Manager at St Luke’s General Hospital, said that the new room will greatly benefit families in Carlow and Kilkenny: “We are very grateful to the Irish Hospice Foundation for supporting the proposal made by staff in our Maternity Unit for this dedicated room,” she said. “It provides a quiet space away from the busy department. Great thought and effort has gone into the design and development of this space, which will be used by families attending our Maternity Unit.”
Professor Ray O’Sullivan, Consultant Obstetrician/Gynaecologist at St Luke’s General Hospital welcomed the development: “Thousands of women and their families endure the heartbreak of miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death every year in Ireland. The grief and trauma of these unexpected events often happen in very public locations. St. Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny is pleased to announce the opening of the Solace Room – a location away from the normal business of the hospital. It is a purpose designed room where women and their families can begin to grieve for the little life that has been lost.”
The idea for the Solace Room came from the management and staff in the Maternity Department. On behalf of the midwifery staff working at St. Luke’s General Hospital, Anne Flynn and Patricia Wogan said that they were pleased that families could benefit from the special room: “This room is for parents and their families who receive sad news or loss during their pregnancy or around the time of birth. The Solace Room will now give our women a place in which to be given sad news, and to sit and have as much time as needed to understand and receive the appropriate information and support in a nice, non-medical environment.”
The new room is part of the ongoing partnership between St Luke’s General Hospital Carlow- Kilkenny and the Irish Hospice Foundation. The hospital’s End of Life Care Committee has been working on a number of initiatives to improve services and support care for people at the end of life throughout the hospital.
To date 11 projects have been funded across the country under the Design & Dignity scheme at a cost of €1.5m. A further nine hospitals around Ireland will benefit from grants totalling €500,000 this year, which will help transform older/dated spaces including family rooms, gardens and mortuaries.
Sharon Foley, CEO of the Irish Hospice Foundation said, “This project in St Luke’s is an excellent example of how a peaceful environment can be created in a busy maternity facility. Losing a child is one of the most traumatic experiences a parent can go through, but having the appropriate space and time to digest the news is crucial.
“Our congratulations are extended to all who worked on this project and especially to the staff of St Luke’s General Hospital for their drive and commitment to providing this space for their patients. It is wonderful to see it come to fruition and I’m sure the facility will be a source of some comfort for bereaved parents at a terribly distressing time in their lives.”