A hospital can be an unfamiliar environment for many patients and their families. When people visit a hospital they are faced with life challenges and a wide variety of discomforts and emotions.
For 10 years now, the Health Care Foundation has strived to enhance our patients’ hospital experiences within the five adult hospitals in the St. John’s region by investing in their comfort, care and well-being through our Comfort in Care™ program.
Comfort in Care™ invests in the small items that make a huge difference in the lives of our patients and their families.
What are these items?
Maybe it’s …
a sleeper chair that allowed you to stay comfortably near your family member when they were most vulnerable;
a rocking chair that provided you relaxation while you awaited the delivery of your new bundle of joy; or
a warm blanket that provided you with relaxation and comfort when you needed it the most.
These items may be small, but their impact is very significant.
Comfort in Care™ is the brain child of a passionate retired Eastern Health nurse, Kathy Corbett, who had a vision in which frontline workers could apply for funding to ensure their patients had the little things that made their care whole.
“As a nurse, I was involved in the direct care of patients for many years,” said Kathy. “During that time, I became increasingly aware of how the little things can make a powerful difference in efficiency, outcomes of care and, of course, in the lives of the people who we are there to care for.”
After Kathy’s nursing class reunion in 2005, the reunion committee had some money left over which they planned to give to a charity.
“I remember thinking that it would be nice if we could give to a charity that supported things that could improve capacity to provide the fundamentals of care – comfort and safety – at the unit level. By doing so, we would be directly investing into the greater wellbeing of our patients and their families, which is all of us!”
“A month later, I met Paul Snow, president and CEO of the Health Care Foundation. Paul enthusiastically embraced the idea and the wheels quickly began to turn for the creation of the Comfort in Care™ program.”
While Kathy founded Comfort in Care™, the idea was brought to fruition with the help of many others, especially Paul Byrne, who represents a hospital supply company. His dedication was instrumental in helping secure the initial funding for the initiative. He has continued with his commitment to the program as Chair of the Comfort in Care™ committee.
The Health Care Foundation staff, as well as a number of Eastern Health representatives, immediately embraced the concept and helped launch the program.
But Comfort in Care would not be possible without the unwavering support from our donors, in particular Johnson Insurance and the Gary Rowe Memorial Comfort in Care Fund who provide funding for our grant program each year.
“Improving capacity to provide the fundamentals of care – comfort and safety- translates to greater wellbeing for our patients and their families, which is all of us! But what is really powerful about the Comfort in Care™ program is that it connects the people whose ideas and donations come together to help ease suffering and to make positive contributions to the hospital environment. The Comfort in Care™ grant application process, in particular, provides a solid connect between those who care from outside the hospital and those who are directly providing care to patients,” added Kathy.
From creation to experience
Kathy got to see the importance the Comfort in Care™ program first hand a few years ago when she was diagnosed with cancer.
“A particular poignant experience came my way this past fall, when as a patient receiving treatments in the Ambulatory Treatment Unit of the Health Sciences Centre, I was given a blanket which had been heated in a blanket warmer,” explained Kathy. “The blanket helped me feel relaxed, warm and allowed me to rest more easily through the treatment. This blanket warmer was funded through the Comfort in Care™ program.”
In recent years, Kathy has also found inspiration in the works of David R. Hawkins, in which she recalled one particular quote which she feels relates to the Comfort in Care™ program:
“Every act or decision we make that supports life supports all life, including our own. The ripples we create return to us – this, which may once have seemed like a metaphysical statement, is now an established scientific fact” – David R. Hawkins.
“The ripples we create return to us…my recent experience has given me more of an appreciation of this statement, as well as a greater understanding that comfort in care includes the things, conditions or actions that help reduce stress, build strength and promote healing. This is the essence of Comfort in Care™ and I am happy to support the foundation’s efforts in this program,” said Kathy.
“I am delighted to have been part of the Comfort in Care™ initiative, and my personal wish for the program, as we mark its 10th anniversary, is that people will continue to become involved and find ways to support healing within our hospitals,” she added.
Celebrating 10 Years
On April 20, 2015, the Health Care Foundation held a ceremony to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of its Comfort in Care™ program and to present over $150,000 in funding to enhance patient comfort, care and well-being.
At the ceremony, $100,000 in funding was provided to Eastern Health for the purchase of comfortable chairs to be placed at the bedside of 175 patients. A total of 45 grants, valued at $50,000, were also awarded to frontline employees for the purchase of patient comfort items. A complete list of the 45 grant recipients can be found below.
Mallory Peacock, a physiotherapist at the Health Sciences Centre, took home two grants at the ceremony to purchase a bariatric broda chair and shower chair-commode with tilt and back support.
“The grants provided by the Health Care Foundation are very important because they provide frontline workers like myself with funding to secure equipment that would help improve our patient’s quality of life,” explained Mallory. “The items I have received funding for will provide a more comfortable health care experience for my patients, which will improve their overall well-being and healing.”
Since 2005, over $400,000 in grant funding has been awarded to Eastern Health employees who share our passion to provide patients with quality, comfortable care.
The success of the Comfort in Care™ program is due to a shared understanding by donors and frontline health care professionals – whether it’s lab professional, nurse, physician or allied health professional – of the value of enhancing the little, but powerful things, in the care environment.
For more information about Comfort in Care™ or the Health Care Foundation, please visit www.healthcarefoundation.ca. ■
This story was written by Jackie O’Brien, manager of communications and stewardship at the Health Care Foundation.