New facilities for bereaved families at hospital mortuary

By Mary Dennehy

STAFF in St James’s Hospital officially opened the newly established family facilities in the hospital mortuary.

The refurbishment was funded by a €12,800 grant from the Design and Dignity Grant Scheme of the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) and Health Service Executive (HSE).

St james Hosp Bereavement room 08 December 2016

The scheme aims to transform the way hospital spaces are designed for people at end of life.

Funding to complete the upgrade of the mortuary facilities was also provided by St James’s Hospital.

Approximately 950 deceased patients pass through the mortuary annually.

Staff identified the need to create a dedicated space for families coming into the mortuary, a space of comfort and privacy in the times of major distress for bereaved families.

St James Hosp family room 08 December 2016

The facilities are comprised of a family room that can be used by families and friends who visit the mortuary to view the remains of the deceased, meet with the bereavement social worker or chaplain, or attend a removal ceremony.

The adjacent kitchen facilitates the provision of refreshments by staff to the bereaved.

Mr Lorcan Birthistle, Chief Executive, St James’s Hospital, said: “In our mortuary we are very aware of the importance of a quiet, comfortable space for families to draw breath after the death of a loved one. This will further improve our hospital’s culture regarding end-of-life care for patients.”

Sharon Foley, CEO of the IHF, commented: “Every year 28,000 people in Ireland die and 43 per cent die in acute hospitals. The Design & Dignity scheme aims to bring design excellence to hospitals where so many people spend their last days.”

The family facilities in St James’s have been operational since the summer.

To date 20 projects have been funded across the country under the Design & Dignity scheme at a cost of €2m.

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