A legacy fit for our RFL heroes

Donations that flooded in from supporters of the Royal Free Charity during the pandemic have helped to refurbish five rooms at the Royal Free Hospital for ICU staff to take vital breaks during their gruelling shifts.

The intensive care unit (ICU) REST rooms (Resilience and Emotional Support Areas) join 11 other spaces for staff which have been furnished or improved with funds from the Royal Free Charity’s COVID-19 appeal.

This project saw charity and Royal Free London (RFL) staff working closely together to identify areas of most need where the charity’s supporters could make the biggest difference for staff.

Speaking at the opening of the four ICU team rooms and the wellbeing room at hospital, Kate Slemeck, chief executive of the Royal Free Hospital, said: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is so important. Healthy and happy staff enable us to deliver good care to our patients.”

Sinead Hanton, ICU matron, asked her staff what they felt they needed to help them perform better and then worked alongside the trust’s estates team and charity staff to make it happen.

She said: “We now have a really decent amount of space. Before we were so cramped that staff were eating their food on their laps on furniture that, putting it politely, had seen better days. Staff’s jaws literally dropped when they came in because they were so amazed to see the difference.

Alpa Patel, who led on the project for the charity, said: “We’ve spent a bit more time and money to make a real difference and provide a lasting legacy for staff. We’ve even included a panel of rainbow art in each room as a reminder of what everyone went through.”

Richard Scarth, interim chief executive of the charity, said: “As part of our COVID-19 appeal these fantastic newly refurbished and additional facilities for the inspirational staff in ICU have been made possible. This is thanks to the generosity of the Royal Free Charity’s donors and fundraisers during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.

“Hundreds upon hundreds of the charity’s supporters, from across the communities served by RFL and beyond, donated thousands of pounds to support our frontline heroes. We understand how important staff wellbeing is to improving the patient experience and we are delighted to have been able to help in this way.”