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Emergency Department Palliative Care Room

The impact it is having on patients, their family and their whānau.

November 30, 2021

Earlier in the year a special room was created for palliative care patients and their whānau in the emergency department at Rotorua Hospital.

The idea for the room came from a Māori working group and ED nurse Lee-Ann Church. We caught up with Lee-Ann and asked her more about the room and what impact it has on patients and their whānau since its completion.

What motivated you to create this space for palliative care patients and their whānau?

It was through my own personal experience spending time in the hospital with my mother that I knew a change was needed and where my passion for palliative care began. I believe the last place a person with a life limiting illness and their family want to be is in hospital. I think often it is the family who are more distressed and don’t want to be sitting and waiting in such an acute and noisy environment worrying about their loved one. I hope this room can help to make them feel more at home and cared for.

What was the inspiration behind the room?

I identified a need for patients who presented to the Emergency Department for palliative care. The ED is a noisy and busy space and the cubicles are clinical and austere. I thought it would be nice to have a space where an end of life patient and their whanau/support people could receive their treatment that was homely, friendly and respectful.

How did you fundraise for the room and what other support was received?

I decided to run the local Rotorua marathon and use this as an opportunity to raise some funds. The balance of the funding came through local businesses who donated materials and labour to the project. The total value of the completed room was close to $15,000.00.

How have patients and whanau received the room since it opened?

The patients and family who have used the room have been so thankful and have had so many positive things to say about it. They have mostly enjoyed being out of a clinical space and enjoyed the comfort the room offers. For others clinical spaces have brought back sad memories of losing other loved ones and it has made the world of difference to be moved into this room which is private, quiet and has a sense of “calm”.  

How have staff at the hospital supported the room since it opened and what have their thoughts been on it?

My colleagues in ED and other staff members from around the hospital are as proud of the room as I am. When it first opened I had many emails and messages from staff members all over the hospital who could see how valuable a room like this is. It would be great to be able to have a room like this in every ward.

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