A legacy fit for our Royal Free London heroes

27 August 2020

Donations that flooded in during the pandemic from the public to the Royal Free Charity have been converted into a very special long term legacy for staff working in intensive care.

As well as the art work supplied by local children which has already gone up on the walls of the intensive care unit (ICU) corridors, the trust and charity have gone one step further to deliver new and improved spaces for ICU staff to take vital breaks during their gruelling shifts.

Speaking at the opening of the four ICU team rooms and the wellbeing room at the Royal Free Hospital, chief executive, Kate Slemeck, said: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is so important. Healthy and happy staff enable us to deliver good care to our patients. ICU was at the epicentre of all the work we were doing with COVID-19 and staff worked so hard for so long. It’s wonderful to be able to provide them better areas to rest which also give them time to think and talk to each another.”

ITU matron Sinead Hanton, spoke to her staff about what they felt they needed to help them perform better and then worked alongside the estates team at the trust to make it happen.

She said: “We now have a really decent amount of space. Before we were so cramped that staff were eating their food on their laps on furniture that, putting it politely, had seen better days. Now we’ve got proper matching tables and chairs. We can hold meetings here but there’s also a pull-out bed, reclining chairs with foot rests, a kitchenette and storage. Staff’s jaws literally dropped when they came in because they were so amazed to see the difference.

“As well as the team rooms we also have a wellbeing room which is a space they can go to to take time out or pray - whatever helps them to destress from the intensity of looking after very sick patients. Everyone keeps on saying thank you and how much they appreciate it and I can see how energised they are by it.”

Alpa Patel, who led on the project for the trust, said: “We’ve spent a bit more time and money to make a real difference and provide a lasting legacy for staff. We’ve even included a panel of rainbow art in each room as a reminder of what everyone went through.”

'You Are Amazing' - ICU staff get the message!

Richard Scarth, interim chief executive of the Royal Free Charity, said: “As part of our COVID-19 appeal these fantastic newly refurbished and additional facilities for the inspirational staff in ITU have been made possible This is thanks to the generosity of the Royal Free Charity’s donors and fundraisers during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.

“Hundreds upon hundreds of the charity’s supporters, from across the communities served by Royal Free London and from beyond, stepped up to donate thousands of pounds to support our front line heroes. We understand how important staff well-being is to improving the patient experience and we are delighted to have been able to help in this way.”

The ICU REST rooms (Resilience and Emotional Support Areas) in ICU join 11 other spaces for staff which have been furnished or improved from the Royal Free Charity’s COVID-19 appeal.

Main pic L-R: Rashinda Atunrase (ITU domestic), Sinead Hanton (ITU matron) and Kate Slemeck (RFH chief executive)