Architects have seen their vision of creating a ground-breaking support centre at Birmingham Children’s Hospital become a reality and directors now hope to replicate the project at hospitals across the UK.
The doors to the innovative Magnolia House – a home-from-home sanctuary offering palliative and bereavement care for families at the hospital – have officially opened.
The new £1m facility, funded entirely through charitable donations, was designed by Birmingham-based Pinnegar Hayward Design (PHD) Architects, which also project managed its construction.
The first of its kind in the UK, the centre will improve the experiences of hundreds of parents and loved ones who will receive life-changing or difficult news in the future.
Inside, there is a play area for young children and a private reflective garden, with families able to spend as much time as they want there before facing the world again.
Lead architect, Simon Wills, who has more than 20 years of experience delivering healthcare projects, said PHD wanted to create an oasis of calm where distressed parents and siblings could find some comfort.
“From the start we wanted to do something entirely different to what already exists,” he said.
“Every year, approximately 120 life-changing conversations take place at Birmingham Children’s Hospital between health professionals and the loved ones of young people.
“Magnolia House offers a non-clinical environment which we hope will provide some comfort to families at the worst-possible time.
“It’s rewarding to see everyone’s hard work pay off and the dream to create this wonderful addition to the hospital come true.”.
Nicki Fitzmaurice, palliative care lead at Birmingham Children's Hospital, added: "The families we care for have wanted a space like Magnolia House for such a long time and we are delighted to now offer an environment that gives parents a chance to process life-changing news.
"Feedback from families was clear. It needed to be unlike any other area in the hospital. It couldn’t smell or sound like a busy ward and there had to be lots of natural light so they didn't feel like they were enclosed. We're proud to have created a setting that honours them."
Located in a central part of the hospital's site, and named because of the trees found in its surrounding garden, Magnolia House has two private counselling rooms, a calming lounge, kitchen, dining area, and siblings play area, as well as a private family room.
Before PHD completed the innovative centre, conversations often took place in offices, empty cubicles, and even playrooms.