Royal Surrey’s chemotherapy unit gets blooming marvellous makeover

A stunning refurbishment has transformed Royal Surrey’s chemotherapy outpatient unit with the addition of flower murals and a refreshments area, thanks to generous charity donations.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 1:40 pm

Chilworth unit treats about 500 chemotherapy outpatients a week, some of whom spend up to eight hours a day receiving their intravenous chemotherapy medicine and attend the unit for many years.

Putting patients’ wellbeing at the heart of the design was a top priority for staff who listened to feedback and came up with some creative ways to make the ward more welcoming and less clinical.

Royal Surrey is a specialist cancer centre with an international reputation, leading the way in robotic surgery for cancer patients.

The entrance to Royal Surrey’s chemotherapy outpatient unit has been given a marvellous new makeover. Pictures courtesy of Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

This makeover is yet another example of the Trust’s innovative and dynamic approach to improving health outcomes and experience for this group of patients.

Chilworth unit’s makeover includes beautiful flower murals in each of the unit’s five bays, a tree canopy frieze at the unit’s entrance and the conversion of an old nurses’ station into a well-stocked refreshments area, where patients can help themselves to hot and cold drinks and snacks.

Local ceramic artist Anamica Chauhan-Vince, with the help of Surrey Adult Learning students, has created a striking piece of wall art for the unit to add to the welcoming feel.

The display features individually decorated ‘Hearts for Heroes’ to celebrate the work of NHS staff during the pandemic.

A stunning refurbishment has transformed Royal Surrey’s chemotherapy outpatient unit with the addition of flower murals and a refreshments area, thanks to generous charity donations

Emma Masters, lead chemotherapy nurse for St Luke’s Cancer Centre at Royal Surrey, said: “If you’re sitting in a clinical environment with blank walls to look at, time can pass very slowly and add to feelings of stress.

"We wanted to break up the monotony and make the experience as pleasant and relaxing as it can be for our patients.

"With our help-yourself refreshment area and comfy lounge space, we want to encourage patients to move around, relax, chat to other patients and break down that ‘waiting room’ atmosphere.

“I’m also hoping, going forward, to create different zones, such as a quiet area, a TV room and a music room, and have an aromatherapy diffuser that releases essential oils to add a soothing sensory element.

"We want to change what has traditionally been a very clinical treatment space to make it more about a patient’s holistic needs.

“We’re extremely grateful to the wonderful supporters who fundraised or donated to Royal Surrey Charity, enabling this refurbishment to happen.”

Patients on the ward are very enthusiastic about the makeover. Sue Bateman, 67, who has secondary breast cancer, added: “I’ve been coming here for a long time and I’m amazed at the difference the beautiful murals make.

"The leaf patterns on the window when you arrive are lovely. The new hot drinks area is much appreciated, too.

"I’m a big fan of St Luke’s and Chilworth. I couldn’t be in a better place.”

Angela Vaz, 59, who first started treatment 18-years ago and has secondary breast cancer, said: “I look forward to my visit in a funny sort of way. The flower murals make you feel uplifted, the chairs are very comfortable, I’ve got to know the staff really well and the atmosphere is just lovely.

"I spend about four hours on the ward, two weeks out of three and it feels like a home from home for me.”

Oncology matron, Sarah Etherington, added: “We are very fortunate because patients and their families have made generous donations and left legacies to the ward, via the Royal Surrey Charity. The donations go into a pot to help us make brilliant changes such as these.”

Intrepid members of staff on Chilworth are also planning a sponsored SkyDive in order to buy additional reclining chairs for the unit.

Please also include with your donation a message in the comments box to say that you wish your donation to go to Chilworth Ward for the purchase of reclining chairs.

Louise Stead, Royal Surrey’s chief executive, said: “For our staff, caring for our patients is often about more than just ensuring the best clinical outcomes but also the best possible experience.

“We’re absolutely delighted with the new look for Chilworth unit. I’m impressed with the imagination and creative thought that has gone into making it less clinical and more restful for patients who might have to spend many hours here.

“It’s brilliant to hear how patient feedback has been listened to and used to turn ideas into reality.

"Transforming the hospital experience for patients who are living with cancer is vitally important to Royal Surrey and we are extremely proud of the excellence of our world class specialist cancer centre and facilities.”