Introducing a calm space for families in busy A&E department

Dale Healy

Senior A&E Charge nurse Dale Healy explains why the hospital has created a new bereavement room in the heart of the Emergency Care Centre.

We take end of life care very seriously in Gateshead and every patient that dies in the A&E department is classed as a sudden death, which can be very traumatic for the patients and relatives as we deal with all ages and walks of life.

It was very clear to the A&E team that a patient death in the emergency department should have the same level of privacy and dignity as any other area of the hospital, despite the busy and often pressurised environment.

We felt there was a high clinical need to provide the appropriate level of privacy and dignity to our patients and relatives, so they can spend the last moments with their loved one in a quiet, private, calm room with no time limit on how they grieve.

More than 300,000 people die in hospitals each year and so the environment for end-of-life care should be of fundamental concern to us all. In Gateshead we have now developed an end of life viewing room within the A&E department to try and improve the environment of care for those who are dying, bereaved or deceased.

The end of life viewing room is an area where patients or families can be taken for confidential discussions. It is designed to accommodate a hospital bed and will give a feeling of homeliness, where patients can retain control over their own environment. It is used as an informal gathering space and place where families can meet, confer and talk with staff, as well as being appropriate place for spending time with the deceased.

This is about creating a sense of welcome and reassurance and will hopefully be seen as a retreat offering some contrast to the pressurised and busy nature of the department.

We really hope this new room can offer a dignified, comfortable and private place for relatives and friends away from the clinical environment to say a proper good bye to their loved ones. 

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