The team from the Specialist Palliative Care Unit known as the Loweswater suite at West Cumberland hospital, are busy preparing to make the move to their new ward area. 

Matron, Andrea Hendren and Ward manager Helen Rusman, who oversee the unit alongside their teams, have been involved in the process right from the beginning, ensuring that both patients and staff would gain the most benefit from the new ward as possible.

Helen said:

“To see the unit almost ready to welcome patients is astounding! Having been involved in the project from the early days of discussing designs, to actually standing in the finished ward really is amazing.”    

Andrea added:

“I was here the day they broke ground on the project and now I’m standing in a lovely, light filled, modern ward, which is a huge upgrade in both the environment and facilities we can offer. I think our patients and their families will be delighted when they see it.”

The new unit has the advantage of being located on the ground floor, meaning patients and families have access to an outdoor courtyard space, something which has not been possible before now.  Patient and family feedback has often been around the opportunity to take time away from the sterile ward area, particularly for those receiving palliative care. Time spent away from the ward is extremely important to patients, a space where they can sit with family or friends and enjoy a quiet moment in the fresh air is imperative.  

Andrea explained:

“The patients we care for are at the end of their life, they want the opportunity to go outside in the sunshine, for some time away from the ward with their loved ones, take some time out to enjoy the fresh air, safe in the knowledge that should they need us we’re close at hand. We are now able to offer them this opportunity should they want it, it really will have such a big impact on our patients.”  

The ward also has the addition of a family room, where staff can have more private or difficult conversations with family members or loved ones. This is a huge upgrade on the current facilities and will be invaluable to both staff and relatives.

Another additional benefit to the ward will be the pneumatic tube system, the Loweswater suite has not had use of the system as it was located in the original hospital building. This will save the staff time and get samples to the lab much more efficiently. The pneumatic tube system is computer-controlled to deliver drugs, documents, and specimens to and from laboratories and nurses' stations.

The ward will also be fitted with a Pyxis Cabinet, which is an automated medication dispensing system. This automated dispensing machines will provide secure medication storage as well as electronic tracking of the use of narcotics and other controlled medications. The units can only dispense what is prescribed for an individual patient, leaving little room for human error.  

Andrea added:

“We’re all really excited to get to work on the new ward, it really is a massive improvement for patients and staff and I’m proud of what we have achieved to get it to where it is today, well done t everyone involved!”


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