West Yorkshire hospital creates home-from-home for terminally ill patients

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For hospital patients faced with a terminal diagnosis, a busy ward is not always the most suitable place for them to be.

There’s less privacy for families to spend precious time with them, hardly any space for loved ones to remain close and few options to make the environment less clinical.

But an innovative suite at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield is changing things.

The Family Support Rooms, the only facility of their kind in the country, include a private en-suite room with open access for relatives of older people coming to the end of their lives or those with dementia.

In a setting designed to be more homely, there are comfy chairs, a pull down bed for family to stay and equipment to play DVDs and CDs.

Anita Ruckledge, lead dementia nurse at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Pinderfields Hospital, said: “These rooms are a suite that provide comfort, compassion and care.

“We really wanted somewhere that afforded dignity and compassion for people who are vulnerable, people who may be at the end of life, people who need that extra support from their loved ones.

“We wanted to create an area where their loved ones can stay with him, hold their hands and touch them.”

She said the suite was developed to provide the best care for patients with dementia or those with a terminal diagnosis, with a team from the trust taking inspiration from other hospitals, hospices and elsewhere.

Decor in the rooms is non-clinical, with large clocks with calendars on the wall – important to help orient people with dementia to time and place.

Anita added: “We have a big television in the room and one gentleman that died was able to watch his favourite opera singer up to minutes before he died.”

Extra touches for families include providing those who have to unexpectedly stay overnight with a comfort pack including toothbrush and toiletries, and supplying tea and coffee.

Feedback from patients and relatives has been very positive, with some saying the rooms made a “vast difference” at the end of their lives.

A video about the facility features Edward Frost, who stayed there following a diagnosis of terminal cancer.

The 83-year-old, who has since died at his home in Wakefield, said in the film: “I think it’s marvellous. It doesn’t look like a hospital, it looks like a hotel.”

Mr Frost’s son Neville told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “If you are in there right at the end, you have got total privacy.

“The room is a brilliant idea.”

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