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ON SITE Mayo Roscommon Hospice CEO Martina Jennings on site with Clerk of works, Garret Henigan, at the new Mayo Roscommon Hospice build in Castlebar.   Pic: Michael McLaughlin

New Castlebar facility set to open in 2019

Ciara Galvin

DUE for completion later this year, the 14-bed Mayo Hospice in Castlebar will be ‘a home from home’ for those who need it. That is the intention of Mayo Roscommon Hospice CEO Martina Jennings and all involved with the project. On a recent site visit, the vision for making the hospice a homely, happy environment was evident.
Consisting of Day Care, Community Care and a 14-bed In-Patient Unit providing symptom control support, respite and end of life services, the patient and their family’s needs are very much to the fore in the design.
Everything from making rooms look as non-hospital like as possible, to providing a children and teenage hang-out room, have been thought of. It is clear that no stone has been left unturned in terms of accommodating patients and visitors’ needs.
“I always say about the hospice that it’s the one place people don’t want to go and it’s the one place they don’t want to leave when they come in,” explains Martina.

State-of-the-art
At a cost of €10 million, the hospice will be state-of-the-art, ensuring patients receive the best level of care. The CEO explained that the facility will provide care for many conditions, not just cancer, including alzeihmer’s, dementia, motor neuron disease, multiple schlerosis and COPD.
“Not everyone in here will be end of life. Our referrals for motor neuron have gone very high this year. People are afraid when they hear the word hospice, but the reality is that 70 percent of people who use hospice will go back out to the community.”
Functionality for staff and comfort for patients is something that was very important for those behind the build, and Martina explained that their ‘sample room’ has been tested out by experienced hospice nurses to make sure they work.
“In the rooms there’ll be a couch with two seats that recline so families can sleep there along with another recliner. You want to keep everyone together as much as possible. There’s room to put whatever they want, pictures, it’s trying to keep away from that look of a hospital as much as possible. Normally you would see plugs and oxygen but they’ll pretty much be hidden behind a panel,” she explained.  
Onsite there is even a three-bed apartment that can sleep up to eight people.
“Families can be with their loved one in a matter of minutes if needed, but can rest when they can.”
Emphasis has been put on the patients being comfortable and in control as much as possible.
Martina explained; “When they come in it will look as near a hotel room or bedroom as we possible can and they have full control over heat, lights, nurse call and the blinds. We’ve tried to take away the hospital feel as much as possible.”

Teenage room
A teenage room will be kitted out with bean bags, a playstation, everything that a teenager and child would want, so that if they have a parent or grandparent, or brother or sister in the hospice, they are close by but not at ‘the coal face’.
“They can talk to their friends, play with their friends and they’re right across from the canteen. They’re safe, they’re as happy as they can be but still here and nearby if mam or dad want them.”
Once patients and families enter the building they are looked after, whether it is with food which there will be no charge for, some quiet time in the reflection room, or some time with nature outside in the courtyard.
Martina noted that the reflection room and courtyard can facilitate any occasion a family may need, from christenings, weddings, naming ceremonies, etc.
Castlebar Foroige club are currently creating a mosaic for the reflection room
Each in patient will have their own private patio with outdoor ‘garden pods’
“They’re like an outdoor sitting room, they’re heated, they rotate for the sun and it means if someone is having a tough time inside or they’ve just got bad news and they want to get away from the building but don’t want to leave they can come outside.”

Detail
Everything from design to colour schemes have been planned with the patient in mind as Martina explains that advice from an Alzeihmers nurse has been sought.
“For the two rooms for dementia and Alzeihmers patients we picked colours with their needs in mind. The colour scheme is all about bringing the outside in and the inside out.
“For many, things like having a bath are the most painful and testing times, that’s why we’ve made sure that here people can relax, we have a hoist to ensure their pain is hopefully non existent,” explained Martina.
Many of us take the simple things such as going outside for granted, but for users of the hospice these can be the most important moments.
“The things they miss are the simple things like being able to go outside, being able to feel the rain, so that’s what we’re trying to do, to let them live every moment.”