Poole Hospital are now offering special chairs in some wards which turn into overnight beds to offer carers a good night’s sleep whilst remaining close to their loved one.
“Carers beds” are a comfortable seat during the day that transform into horizontal beds, complete with storage, for use overnight. It allows those who care for a patient outside of hospital to continue to be with them in comfort while being in the hospital.
Alison Wilby, who cared for her mother – a former NHS nurse- Pat Wilby until her death last year, overnight hospitals stays often meant being apart.
Because Alison was an active carer, she was able to stay for longer visiting hours and receive discounts in the hospital restaurant. Karen Uphill, the hospital’s carers support lead, wanted to share Alison’s experiences of caring for someone in hospital with other nursing staff, and invited her to a sisters meeting. Alison told them it would be good if there was a way for carers to routinely stay with their loved one while in hospital.
Karen then contacted the Leonardo Trust, a registered charity based in Broadstone which supports carers, to see if they could help. After hearing about Alison and Pat’s experiences the charity provided funding to buy two of the £800 specialist beds. The purchase of two further carers beds has now been agreed by the charity, meaning carers of patients not only on Lulworth and Lytchett wards, but now Portland and Kimmeridge wards, can benefit.
“When my mum was on Kimmeridge ward, I would stay until late at night, and come back as early as possible in the morning. When my mum needed to stay longer in hospital than first thought, the staff were so understanding and found a small cot-type bed for me and we were given a room of our own – and that’s how it was for a month.”
Karen explains more: “Before we had these beds, carers would have to either spend the night apart from their loved one, or try and sleep in a chair, which was far from ideal. Having the support and ongoing contact with a carer the patient is familiar with makes an incredible difference to a stay in hospital, and at Poole Hospital we’re committed to supporting the carer in the same way we support our patients.
Leonardo Trust’s Charity Manager, Donna Blanche, said they were delighted to be able to help support unpaid carers when their loved ones are in hospital.
“We hope to be able to purchase more carers beds for hospitals across Dorset”, she said.