Making space for families

A story about family-sensitive work in practice

Jennifer Voytas, a COPMI National Lived Experience Representative shares her experience at the Cumberland Hospital in Westmead NSW.

It starts with an idea

'The idea for a Family Room began some 6 months ago in discussion with our COPMI representative for Western Sydney.  We agreed that every clinic and hospital needs to have an area, or ideally a dedicated room, for families to use when their children visit. 

We envisaged a safe and friendly space where parents and children could just be a family and not worry about what mum or dad are at the hospital for, or get distressed at strange things that they might see or hear in the wards during their visit.'

A dream becomes reality

'Imagine my delight when we were offered a small budget from the hospital! We were able to get couches donated by the local Lions Club and a staff member's mother painted a wonderful jungle-themed mural on the wall. We brought in toys for children to play with - and a dark, disused, urine-smelling ward room was transformed into a bright and welcoming Family Room.

One of the first to use the room was a patient who had 9 children visit her.  Luckily the room had just been finished and the family made great use of the space and toys – what better way to officially christen it!

Shortly after this, a new mother was a patient and her husband brought their baby in for breast-feeding. With the new family room available the mother was able to use it to calmly and quietly breast-feed her baby and talk with her husband, in a space suitable for them.'

Kudos to Cumberland Hospital for recognising the importance of family-centred practice. This truly is a great step forward in living the family-focused values that COPMI espouse.