Private space at Limerick hospital will help grieving families

Family room opens at St John's Hospital

Anne Sheridan


Anne Sheridan

Private space at Limerick hospital will help grieving families

Ferghal Grimes, Ronan Rose Roberts, Bishop Brendan Leahy, Deirdre Kelly, Mayor Jerry O'Dea and Kathleen Lynch at the official opening of the family room at St John's Hospital [Picture: Dave Gaynor]

THE famous Finnish architect Alvor Alto once said that “architecture should protect man at his weakest”.

Those in their weakest moments will now be afforded an opportunity to grieve privately and come to terms with the imminent death of a friend or loved one in St John’s Hospital.

The Bishop of Limerick, Brendan Leahy, has opened a new family room in St John’s Hospital, which will provide a dedicated space for families of patients who are dying.

The new facility - the first of its kind in the hospital – will allow families a private space away from the ward; to relax, get some sleep, shower, or make refreshments.

The work was carried out with the support of a grant of €24,397 from the Design and Dignity Scheme of The Irish Hospice Foundation and Health Services Executive. The scheme aims to transform the way hospital spaces are designed for people at end of life.

Special tribute was made at the opening to Kathleen Lynch, who works in St John’s and was credited as being a “champion” in bringing the works to fruition.

St John’s Hospital also contributed €40,703 to support the creation of the family room. Previously families would congregate on the corridor, often in times of crisis, stress and grief.

The new family room provides overnight accommodation, a kitchenette, shower and toilet facilities in a space that is homely and welcoming.

Fearghal Grimes, chief executive of St John’s Hospital said that through patient feedback they became more than aware that taking a break on the corridor when a loved one is dying is not the most appropriate for upset family members.

He said the new family room “will lead to a huge improvement in the culture of the hospital regarding end of life care for patients”.

Sharon Foley, chief executive of the Irish Hospice Foundation, said every year 28,000 people in Ireland die and 43% die in acute hospitals. 

“The Design & Dignity scheme aims to bring design excellence to hospitals where so many people spend their last days. This new facility in St John’s Hospital is a sanctuary for families at a very distressing time and will allow them the proper space and privacy they need. I’d like to commend the staff for their vision and commitment to making end of life care a priority.