I am so grateful you took the time to share your experiences; and offer such powerful affirmation for our proposal. More tangibly than anything else, it demonstrates that people who are tasked with creating optimal spaces for patients nearing death need this resource, which will allow them to tap into the collective wisdom of others who have faced this challenge.
The fact that you are able to use the feedback we received to inform the design of your hospice, and that you would be willing to share your insights within a global design repository, says LOUDLY this project is needed and viable!
Thank you for contacting me. I recall a series of meetings we held with bereaved family members, asking them to share their insights as to hospices should be designed. The information we collected was extraordinary; including reflections on the size a bed should be ("big enough for two people to sleep or cuddle together"), room furnishings ("chairs that recline into comfortable beds to accommodate family to sleep over"); doors that can be shut 'silently' without disturbing anyone's sleep; and the list, touching on every single facet of how these spaces should be designed to best meet the needs of patients and families, goes on and on.
This was part of our inspiration for this project. People thinking about these issues and contemplating these spaces can collectively raise the design bar worldwide. This will help ensure that terminally ill patients - accompanied by those they love - can live out their final months, weeks and days in a setting that will best accommodate all of their needs.
That is our vision. It is one we think many, just like your group in Southern Oregon, will be drawn to.
Harvey Max Chochinov MD PhD FRSC Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Manitoba Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care Director, Manitoba Palliative Care Research Unit
Thanks for your interest Joanna. I am a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manitoba. For nearly thirty years, have led a program of research in palliative care (see dignityincare.ca to get a flavor of my work).
Shelly, George and I have been working on a project for about 5 years, working towards establishing an International Centre on Dignity and Palliative Care. We envision this being a world class centre, hosting hospices, palliative care units; rural collaborative, a multi-disciplinary school of dignity and palliative care; a research unit, communication technology suite, and so much more. We have had broad community consultation, including healthcare professionals, family members of patients (adult and children) who have died, Aboriginal community leaders, members of government, all lending the voice - and support - in shaping this extraordinary vision.
As such, we have thought a great deal about ‘spaces’ designed for patients and their families who are anticipating end of life experiences. Given the diversity of our initiative, we have thought about spaces for adults who are dying, children nearing death; and culturally sensitive spaces for Aboriginal patients and families. The challenge of conceiving these spaces is by no means limited to our centre, in that communities around the world must determine how best these spaces can be designed to provide care and comfort for those people we love and will soon be left to mourn.