Changing family and visitor intensive care experiences

Jemma stands in front of staff station
Westmead Hospital intensive care social worker Jemma Shanahan

Social worker Jemma Shanahan is a champion of the central role of consumers in redevelopment design and planning as work advances on the refurbishment of Westmead Hospital’s intensive care services.

Jemma is a member of the intensive care service’s project user group (PUG), who are working side-by-side with consumers to transform the unit’s physical spaces and models of care.

The refurbishment will expand the existing administration area and refurbish a recently vacated ward in D3 to deliver a new level 1 intensive care service and waiting room.

The existing waiting area in in E3 will be refurbished, catering for 60 to 70 visitors and family members. A secondary waiting area will also be created in D3.

“Consumers have been directly involved in the design of the refurbished waiting areas,” Jemma said.

“Visiting intensive care is a scary time for families and carers. Consumers have stressed the importance of privacy and improved communication during this stressful time, which has directly informed the choice and lay-out of furniture in the waiting area, allowing for more private conversations in small groups.”

“It is really important for us that consumers are helping staff, including our social work team, to think about what changes we need to make, both operationally, and in our communication with families and carers.”

PUG members, consumers and WSLHD health literacy hub staff are also developing multi-lingual information to be displayed on televisions in the waiting area. Messages will include operational information about the unit, locations of nearby amenities and self-care tips for carers and families.

“We’re also reviewing our current printed resources for visitors and families,” Jemma said.

“Consumers will help us ensure they are appropriate for western Sydney’s diverse community, including patients from non-English speaking backgrounds, and from different age groups.”

Planning is continuing for the intensive care services refurbishment. Construction is expected to start in late 2018.

More than 30 per cent of clinical areas at Westmead Hospital will be refurbished through the Westmead Redevelopment between 2017 and 2022. Read more about refurbishments.