27 Sept 2022

Limerick maternity hospital improves facilities for Tipperary families who receive sad news

Limerick maternity hospital improves facilities for Tipperary families who receive sad news

Mary Lovegrove, Design & Dignity project manager, Irish Hospice Foundation; Prof Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group; Marie Hunt, CMM2 bereavement counselling midwife and David and Louise Higgins

A refurbishment project at University Maternity Hospital Limerick has transformed the hospital’s Rose Room into a more appropriate space for mothers and families who have received bad news.

UMHL was granted funding to refurbish the Rose Room as part of the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) and the HSE’s Design & Dignity Grants Scheme, which adapts hospital spaces for patients at end-of-life.

Approximately €7,200 has been provided – €5,000 of which is a Design & Dignity Grant with the remainder coming from UMHL.

Marie Hunt, CMM2 bereavement counselling midwife, UMHL, said: “On average there are 4,500 babies born in UMHL every year. Although the majority of women presenting at the antenatal clinic have a positive outcome, sadly there are women who experience fetal loss or fetal abnormalities."

The Rose Room is a quiet room for compassionate care where parents can receive difficult news in privacy. It is situated adjoining one of the main ultrasound rooms with an interconnecting door.  When a doctor or ultrasonographer identifies a fetal abnormality on the ultrasound scan or when a woman or couple have been asked to return to the hospital for the results of diagnostic tests, there needs to be a private dignified comfortable space where they can be met with compassion and cared for.

Refurbishing the room included painting the door and walls, change of flooring, installing soft lighting, removing the wall cupboards, installing soft furniture, coffee-making facilities and adding an art feature to the walls.

Parents as well as clinical staff were involved in drawing up the plans from the beginning, and many of the ideas have come from midwives, doctors and ultrasonographers working at the front line.

The newly refurbished Rose Room will represent our commitment to providing sensitive and compassionate care to women and their families when receiving bad news while providing a private and dignified space for them to receive their care, she said. 

“Design and Dignity projects have now been completed in five of our six hospitals. This we believe is something that we can be proud of and represents our commitment to care and support for families who journey with us through end of life and perinatal bereavement care,” said Ms Hunt.

The official opening of the refurbished space was attended by Louise and David Higgins from County Limerick, who lost their baby, Sarah, in 2017.

Louise said: “The professionalism, sensitivity and understanding of the staff at UMHL is exemplary. The generosity and sensitivity of the ladies who knitted special basket beds, blankets and teddies for our beautiful daughter Sarah is overwhelming. All the kindness and warmth of the hospital staff is now mirrored in the Rose Room.”

The Design & Dignity scheme previously funded a mortuary refurbishment in University Hospital Limerick as well as family rooms in St John’s Hospital and Nenagh Hospital and a bereavement suite in Ennis Hospital. 

Mary Lovegrove, Design & Dignity Project Manager with the IHF said: "Our vision for the Design & Dignity project is for an end of life sanctuary in every public hospital in the country by 2021 with approximately 60 projects completed as well as a HSE National Mortuary Capitals Programme underway."

Design & Dignity is a partnership project of the IHF and HSE Estates and originated in the IHF’s Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme. The HSE has adopted Design & Dignity Guidelines for all refurbishment and new builds.

Prof Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, thanked the IHF for their support in improving the fabric of the hospital estate in the Mid-West for bereaved families.

“We also know from our patients that the service can improve further," she said.

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