Personalised decor wins city care home a patient experience award

Thomas O'Sullivan with nurses Jane Montgomery and Corina Falconer. Picture: KATE CHANDLER

Thomas O'Sullivan with nurses Jane Montgomery and Corina Falconer. Picture: KATE CHANDLER

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SHE dreamed of a room fit for a princess, a twinkly haven where she could relax and entertain guests in style.

Adorned with fairy lights, scatter cushions, throws and baskets, 77-year-old Elma Westwater’s bedroom is a far cry from those found in most care homes.

And that is why judges have recognised the achievements of the Thistle Ward at Ellen’s Glen House hospital, in Liberton, awarding it a national prize for its welcoming atmosphere.

The centre, which has transformed itself into a “home-from-home” for its elderly residents, beat five other finalists and took more than half the votes in the last round of the Patient Experience Network’s National Awards (PENNA).

Nursing assistant Jane Montgomery said the “homely” idea started with resident and former nurse Ms Westwater. She said: “Elma’s always wanted to be a princess and wanted a princess’s bedroom. We went to Ikea and were looking at some of the bedrooms that were already made up. It all took months, she was out picking all this stuff, and it just had a domino effect – the rest of the patients wanted to bring out their own individuality in their rooms.”

The centre has been recognised for a series of initiatives to boost the wellbeing of its residents, who are older people with enduring mental health issues. Patients have been allowed to choose the decor in their rooms and bring in personal items.

The communal lounge also has domestic touches, such as a fish tank and a stereo system.

Also pleased with his room at the hospital is retired gas fitter Thomas O’Sullivan, 77.

He said: “I like it immensely. It’s not like you wake up in the morning and see the same thing as everyone else. You see a bit of a difference, and it makes things more interesting.”

Staff nurse Corina Falconer said it was not just the decor for which the hospital had been recognised: “I think it was just the overall compassion. It’s a patient-centred project, so it was everything the patients wanted to feel more at home.”

She said the team were delighted to hear they had won not only the Environment of Care award, but also the overall PENNA prize: “Words can’t describe how we felt, just completely overwhelmed – we were all crying.”

The awards were organised by the Patient Experience Network, which brings together organisations which are working to improve healthcare from the point of view of patients.