Published on: 13 May 2021

Caring teams from South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust have created a quiet room in the emergency department to support patients at end of life who want to spend precious time with loved ones.

The emergency care and end of life teams have worked together to create the suite in Sunderland Royal Hospital and provide a private area for families to say their final goodbyes to loved ones away from the busyness of the department. It features comfortable furniture, quiet music and reed diffusers donated by members of the public.

The room also includes artwork from retired nurse Derrick Johnson and an iconic photo of a rainbow over Sunderland Royal Hospital, which was taken at the beginning of the pandemic by a member of staff.

Emergency Department Junior Sister Lesley Young, who has led the project, said: “The Emergency Department sees some of our sickest patients, many of which will have taken ill quite quickly or have experienced some kind of sudden trauma, such as a car accident or fall.

“COVID-19 has meant that many families have not been able to be with their loved ones when they have had to come into hospital and this can greatly add to their distress, especially when the patient is very poorly or deteriorates quickly.

“Bringing families together at end of life and in such exceptional circumstances is something we have always tried to do, but we wanted to do more to make sure they could spend those precious last moments together in a safe and comfortable space away from clinical areas. After speaking to colleagues, patients and relatives about what was important to them, we created the quiet room.

“Everything about the room is designed to be calming and non-clinical. It has also really helped some of our patients who have additional needs and can get quite overwhelmed in a hospital environment; as well as a lovely space for our staff to take some time to reflect or relax after particular busy or challenging periods.”