£340,000 Butterfly Appeal aims to transform sick patients' final days at West Suffolk Hospital
A major fundraising appeal for 2020, which will see a Bury St Edmunds hospital charity aim to transform the experiences of end-of-life and terminally-ill patients, has been unveiled.
The ultimate aim is to pay for a special private area within the hospital, where patients can spend some of their final days or hours with loved ones.
The My WiSH Charity, based at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, is behind the idea for the indoor space within a garden area of the hospital.
Our sister title, the Bury Free Press, is lead media partner for the appeal – the Butterfly Appeal – which is looking to raise £340,000 to build the Butterfly Garden – and we will be playing our part, too.
The space will be situated within an existing garden in the hospital in Hardwick Lane, so that patients can be surrounded by their loved ones – including pets – as they prepare to say goodbye.
Steve Trowles, My WiSH charity ambassador, who lost his mum in 2016, says in the appeal’s launch booklet: “Mum adored being in my garden at home and we shared many happy times together as a family.
“To be able to do this within the safety of the hospital during her final days would have been amazing and would definitely have helped us to create some special memories.”
Sue Smith, head of fundraising at My WiSH, said: “We are so excited to finally be able to launch this appeal. We have spoken to many families and heard their stories. This is such a difficult time in people’s lives and it made us realise we needed to do something.
“The hospital is such a busy environment, so we hope that, by offering this tranquil space, it will make this time in their lives a little easier.”
Every day, around 25 patients will need the help of the end-of-life services at West Suffolk Hospital. Every year, the palliative care team cares for more than 1,000 admissions. These patients are looked after by a dedicated team.
Currently, end-of-life patients are cared for with no dedicated space to allow for privacy and to say goodbye to family and friends.
My WiSH’s vision for the Butterfly Appeal is to create a garden with a glass-fronted building, which will be able to accommodate a patient in their bed.
The area will allow patients and their loved ones to spend quality time together, away from a busy ward.
It can also be used for patients to quietly reflect or for hospital staff to have more challenging or difficult conversations with family members and friends.
The appeal has already gained support from several businesses, with the Ice Café, on Rougham Industrial Estate, and Marks & Spencer choosing My WiSH as their chosen charity for 2020.
The Butterfly Garden building will have large glass doors, which will open to make the space feel like it is part of the garden. There will be a calming light, music, a TV, and other facilities to make the space a comfortable environment. The garden will also be filled with sensory plants and a special water feature.
The charity is planning to design the garden to allow easy movement of a patient in their bed – so they can enjoy not just the indoor area but also be at one with the outdoors.
The idea is that the area does not feel like a hospital, but more like a sanctuary or safe place for patients, family, friends and staff.
Sally Daniels, appeal manager, said: “Staff members often have to break bad news in unsuitable rooms, such as staff rooms. These are desperately sad conversations, but this space will provide them with a quiet area where the nursing staff can talk to them without being disturbed.”
The garden will also be used for celebrations, such as weddings, if a patient is unable to leave the hospital.
Sue added: “For me, if my family member was going to die in hospital, I know they would receive excellent care – I absolutely know that.
“But we need to be able to offer a better environment for these people to spend their last days, hours or minutes, surrounded by the people who love them.”
Sally added: “It’s so hard for those left behind. We hope that this space will provide them with time together to create special memories in their time of need.”
My WiSH already provides patients and their families and friends with comfort packs which contain essentials to allow loved ones to be – and stay – by their bedside.
They provide training to allow nurses to administer pain relief, as well as scenic screens to enhance the bed space, including a beach, woodland and a hot air balloon floating over fields.
More by this authorLaura Nolan