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Generous donation helps families stay closer to loved ones when in hospital

Pictured: Consultant Anthony Williams, DVLA chief executive Julie Lennard and Tŷ Olwen Trust chairman Helen Murray MBE at the opening of the family room.

Families who want to be close to loved ones who are coming to the end of their lives now have a special place to go, thanks to a generous donation.

A family room has been installed at Tŷ Olwen, in Morriston Hospital, providing a dedicated area to make food and drinks, have a shower or even stay overnight.

The new facility has been fitted with a two-person sofa bed, shower and a kitchenette meaning visitors can make themselves comfortable at the unit.

It also gives them the option to remain at their loved one’s side for longer periods of time, if it is deemed appropriate.

The introduction of the family room has been made possible by a donation from DVLA staff in Swansea, who chose the Tŷ Olwen Trust as their charity to support for an entire year.

Karren Roberts, ward manager, said: “At the side of every bed in Tŷ Olwen is another bed that pulls down. But sometimes you need somewhere you can go and have a cup of coffee, or somewhere you can chat to your family, or have a shower to freshen up.

“The purpose of the room is to enable someone who is important to a person who is in Tŷ Olwen the opportunity to stay overnight, which could enhance the person’s holistic care.

“It’s a safe place for people to go and support each other and to be able to have time away from the bedside.

“It will give people time to rest and recuperate from everything that’s going on. It will also make sure people are able to have adequate nutrition, to shower and just have a little bit of normality during such an uncertain time in their lives.

“We can also use the room to support relatives as well. So if they need time away from the bedside and want to chat to staff that can be a room that can facilitate important conversations.”

The new room also comes with a number of home comforts too, including a TV, microwave and kettle.

Staff will facilitate overnight stays in the family room on a priority basis and block booking won’t be allowed, in order to remain fair to all visitors.

“It’s anticipated it will most commonly be used in the context of a person’s end of life care where the prognosis will be short,” Karren added.

“We will have guidance around it so we can govern it and make sure that access to the room is fair to all.

“It will help to provide holistic patient-centred care with their family at their bedside when they need them there.

“But also, just having them in the building will be reassuring for the patients too.

“Especially after Covid when we had to reduce visiting, this will be life-transforming for people who are in end of life care.”

The DVLA chose the Tŷ Olwen Trust as its charity to support during 2019 and fundraising efforts totalled more than £62,000.

Members of staff raised the sum of money by completing sponsored walks, mountain climbs and concerts, among other events.

While the pandemic delayed the building work, the money raised paid for an unused room to be transformed into the new family room.

Helen Murray MBE, chairman of the Tŷ Olwen Trust, said on behalf of the trustees: “The support received from the DVLA throughout that year was incredible.

“We enjoyed visiting the DVLA to speak about Tŷ Olwen and supporting them with their sponsored walks, mountain climbs, ‘Bake Off’, concerts with the choir, fetes and more.

“Many friendships were formed and much fun had which culminated with a presentation to the Tŷ Olwen Trust of £62,033.45p.

“The Tŷ Olwen Trustees felt that a suitable project should be identified to benefit from the generosity of the DVLA staff.

“After discussions with Dr Gwen Davies and her team, it was agreed that a much needed space be identified to be used as a family room.”

Members of staff from the DVLA, including chief executive Julie Lennard, got a chance to see the new family room as they officially cut the ribbon to open it.

Karren said: “We would like to thank the DVLA for the incredible fundraising they did and for choosing us as their charity that year.

“It’s going to allow holistic patient-centred care with patient’s families and loved ones at their side when they need them the most.

“We wanted to generate something from that money that would benefit the whole of the unit.

“The room is going to be transformational for our relatives.”

Helen added: “The Tŷ Olwen Trustees were delighted to welcome Julie and some of the fantastic staff at the DVLA to Tŷ Olwen to officially cut the ribbon to open the DVLA family room.

“The Tŷ Olwen Trust is currently contributing nearly £500,000 a year to the Tŷ Olwen service, covering 13% of salaries for key members of the nursing and therapy teams.

“Trustees also respond to the requests from staff to provide all the extras that make Tŷ Olwen the special place it is, and funding education and wellbeing sessions for staff.

“This would not be possible without the incredible overwhelming support we receive from so many individuals and groups and to them all we say thank you.”