One of St Mary’s oldest wards transformed to support frail, older patients

A £1 million project to refurbish one of the oldest wards at St Mary’s Hospital has transformed the care environment for older patients with complex conditions.

The 20-bed Thistlethwayte ward has been redesigned to create extra space for beds and bathrooms, with special lighting and artwork to help frail patients feel more comfortable during their time in hospital.

Some of the Trust’s frailest patients can now be cared for in an environment tailored to their needs . Dementia-friendly signs, clocks, toilet hand rails and name boards have also been installed. The extra space for patients and staff to move around helps reduce the risk of falls, and a central reception desk away from the beds offers greater peace and privacy for patients.

A planned refurbishment was brought forward and expanded when part of the ceiling in one section of the ward collapsed last summer. Thistlethwayte ward is in the 147-year old Cambridge wing of St Mary’s Hospital.

Cathy Gale, lead nurse for specialist medicine at St Mary’s Hospital, said: “The Thistlethwayte ward is now a much better environment – for patients and staff.

“It’s airy, light and open, creating a more reassuring, safer and comfortable environment for some of our most vulnerable patients.

“For staff it has made everything easier, from serving meals to having more space, and that all helps us to deliver excellent care for our patients.

“It has been a real team effort, everyone has worked together and been engaged with the project from start to finish.”

The refurbished ward was opened at a ceremony on Wednesday 21 February by Sir Richard Sykes, chairman of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. He was joined by Ian Lush, chief executive of Imperial Health Charity, which awarded a grant of £320,000 towards the project and arranged for window panel artworks to be installed on the ward.

Mr Lush said: “We are delighted to have supported this essential refurbishment, which will ensure the staff on the Thistlethwayte ward can continue to provide outstanding care for elderly patients when they need it most.

“The team of nurses here work incredibly hard day after day, night after night, to help patients with complex conditions – including many who have dementia – and this fantastic new ward will equip them with the best possible tools for the job.”

Imperial Health Charity has also worked with Lucentia Design to install a series of uplifting window artworks to bring colour to the ward without reducing light levels. The designs have been adapted to fit both the male and female sections of the ward and to aid wayfinding for patients and visitors. As part of the charity’s arts engagement programme, patients will also be offered the chance to take part in arts and crafts workshops delivered by the Paper Birch team.