Mental health ward staff in Leicester are marking #CarersWeek2019 by unveiling a bright, new-look family room where patients can relax with loved ones in comfort.

The room, at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust’s (LPT)  Bradgate mental health unit on the Glenfield Hospital site, has been transformed from a drab, clinical-looking space with stark furniture and plain walls into a colourful, child-friendly haven away from the wards where patients can greet and chat with their loved ones in a safe, welcoming and private space.

The room was officially opened on Tuesday by Dr Peter Miller, LPT’s chief executive, pictured above with Helen Thompson, director for adult mental health, learning disabilities and children, young people and families services, and Helena Mitchell, LPT’s Whole Family Approach lead.

Among the rainbow of family-friendly features now included in the room are striking and colourful murals which create zoned areas designed to appeal to different age groups,  screened windows, and  a range of books, toys, craft activities and games.

The transformation is the result of nine months’ work. Families, patients, Bradgate unit staff and volunteers came together to explore what they would like to see in the room, and how the facilities could best meet everyone’s needs. The initiative was funded through a programme called Listening into Action, which seeks to empower healthcare staff to drive improvements locally. It was led by Saskya Falope, sister on the unit’s Ashby Ward which provides care for acutely ill male patients, and Helena Mitchell, who heads up the Trust’s Whole Family Approach. The new family room certainly seeks to put the whole family at the centre of patient care and recovery!

Saskya said: “The room has always been available for families visiting the unit to have their own space. But it was dark and uninviting and there were no resources to keep children occupied. We listened to what families told us they needed, and worked with them to design a much more welcoming space where patients can relax and just enjoy being together with their loved ones.”

Helena explained: “We also worked with families to design a welcome leaflet which sets out what is available in the room, and provides details of how it can be booked out as well as visiting hours. It will be included in the ward packs.”

One carer attending the opening said: “The room looks beautiful, and what a difference this will make for those visiting the unit.” Another added: “This will make the experience much less stressful for parents and kids. It’s lovely that the room is especially for families.”

Planters and fence paints have already been bought, and the next step (weather permitting!) is to brighten the adjacent outdoor space too.

Before and after – from nondescript room to colourful family-friendly décor:

Family room at the Bradgate Unit
Family room at the Bradgate Unit