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Royal Marsden uses fire damage as chance to rethink critical care

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The Royal Marsden Hospital has opened a £10m critical care unit that it hopes will significantly aid patient recovery and encourage family visits.

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The London hospital was badly damaged in a fire two years ago and nurses have helped to shape the therapeutic environment of the new unit, paid for with insurance funds and charity donations.

As well as a new IT system that allows staff to view patient observations from any PC on the hospital network, much thought has gone into improving facilities for visitors.

There are new beds and showers for relatives to use if they need to stay overnight and, unlike similar units elsewhere, children are encouraged to visit.

Matron Jen Watson told Nursing Times: “We’re trying to encourage family visiting. Often in hospital there’s a real sense of children having infection, but managed visits are important. It’s quite a change in culture.”

The trust also owns designated buildings where nurses can put up relatives who have nowhere to stay, depending on their circumstances.

It is also working with family psychologists to make sure patients and relatives are getting the most out of visits.

The ward has been designed to prevent patients from becoming disorientated  and confused about what time of day it is, with access to outside space and clocks on all the walls.

A special adolescent ward will also contain iPads, games consoles and brighter furniture.

The 2008 fire damaged part of the hospital’s roof. All patients and staff were evacuated safely.

Ms Watson said it had been worrying to see smoke inside the hospital but that staff had worked quickly to ensure everyone was moved to safety.

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