Dedicated bereavement suite for families at Whipps Cross

26 Sep 2017

Bereaved families and carers at Whipps Cross Hospital now have a more comfortable, peaceful and private environment in which to grieve, ask questions and carry out the necessary affairs required at such a sad time.

The new bereavement suite at Whipps Cross The new bereavement suite at Whipps Cross The old bereavement suite at Whipps Cross

The project has been fully funded by a generous legacy to Barts Charity from Doris Fieldwick, showing the wonderful and lasting impact that can be achieved with legacy gifts. She wanted her estate to benefit Whipps Cross Hospital in memory of the care her husband received there in the last few weeks of his life, and her executors agreed that funding the new bereavement suite would be the perfect application of her legacy.

Following the death of a patient, bereaved family members or carers collect their loved one’s death certificate and formally register the death, which is often their last experience of the hospital.

The environment in which this happens is therefore important, and needs to be meaningful.

With £96,000 funding, the bereavement suite at Whipps Cross has had a full redevelopment (the final picture on this page is the 'before' shot), including the introduction of a private room where the bereavement officer can meet families and carers.

This ensures families don’t feel rushed or distracted, and have the privacy and space necessary for such sensitive conversations to take place.

“The project incorporates key environmental principles to help improve privacy and dignity for loved ones,” says Rosamund Butterfield, Trust Bereavement Lead at Barts Health NHS Trust. “And this has an impact on the quality of our service and the experience of the bereaved – it is also a space that staff can be proud of too.”

An important feature of the new space is artwork; artist Julia Vogl was commissioned by Vital Arts, the arts organisation for Barts Health NHS Trust, and their contribution has been integral to the project. Julia’s art was derived from leaves found in the Whipps Cross courtyard garden, as well as taking inspiration from the art of William Morris, who was local to the area.

Additional features, also led by Julia, include hand-drawn and digitally-printed cushions, and a hand-printed light box which has helped to create an environment that is appropriately tranquil.

“Some visitors to the hospital have experienced a bereavement here before,” added Rosamund. “And we have already received positive comments, as it is clear to see the difference between what we had and what we have now. The new suite is making a significant impact and I would like to thank Barts Charity and their supporters for their continued support.”

The final picture on this page shows the bereavement suite before it was redeveloped.

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