19th September 2023
Portiuncula University Hospital has officially opened a new designated room in the Maternity Unit for bereaved families. The Willow Suite has been designed to provide a protected and comfortable space for parents and their families who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss.
The Willow Suite will provide a ‘home from home’ space for parents and families who have experienced a pregnancy or infant loss and for those who require in-patient care. The suite was specifically designed to provide a private environment, within which staff will respectfully and sensitively care for the individual needs of each bereaved parent.
Director of Midwifery at the hospital, Deirdre Naughton, explains the significance of the new development: “While the birth of a baby is normally a very joyful experience for women and their families, sadly, there are times when a baby dies before or shortly after birth.
“The loss of a baby is an incredibly traumatic event leaving parents with overwhelming emotional needs and is one of the most painful experiences that any parent has to face. It signifies the loss of the future, of hopes and dreams, and affects the entire extended family.
“We hope this important new suite will give grieving parents a comfortable space to spend time with their baby and to create memories. It allows a family to grieve with dignity, with respect for the personhood of their child,” she added.
The Willow Suite is a single occupancy room with en-suite shower and bathroom facilities. It includes an equipped kitchenette, Bluetooth speakers, oil diffusers and colourful and captivating artwork.
The suite overlooks the hospital gardens. In the coming months, a small memory garden space will be completed which will incorporate a seating space around a willow tree to provide families with a sanctuary surrounded by nature.
Deirdre added that Willow, as a name, was chosen in “consultation with staff and women attending our service. Willow is a symbol of the endurance of love and family. It gives hope and a sense of belonging and safety.”
Leanne Norton, Bereavement Support Midwife said they hope the room will offer “some small comfort to parents and their families in times of grief and bereavement. The interior design was undertaken to ensure privacy and dignity and it will allow parents some quiet time to spend with their baby and loved ones, while still getting support and assistance from staff.
“Along with the Willow Suite, we have also upgraded the Rose Room which is located beside the Willow Suite. The Rose Room offers a second space for families at a difficult time in their lives. Its soft furnishings, gentle but alluring artwork, and inbuilt custom furniture mean it is effectively designed almost as a small living room. It is being used by families as a space for older children and grandparents to wait and rest.”
James Keane, Hospital Manager, concluded that they were “very grateful to the HSE National Infants and Women’s Health Programme for the funding to develop the Willow Suite. Person-centred bereavement support is integral in the care we provide to parents and families bereaved by pregnancy or infant loss, and we are honoured to provide a dignified and compassionate space within our bereavement care.”