As I mentioned previously, all visits or viewings must be arranged by appointment prior to the day. The mortuary is not somewhere you can just arrive and expect to be able to see someone, we even ask the maintenance team and other people from the hospital to make appointments if not an urgent call. This is partly due to the nature of our work, but also to maintain the dignity and privacy of the deceased. Sometimes people do not understand, but we strongly believe the deceased are as entitled to this as the living.
Upon arrival at an appointment, the family member or members are either escorted by one of our front desk staff or met by us at the reception. The pandemic conditions currently require everyone to be temperature scanned on arrival and we can meet people once this has been done. The viewing suite we have is simple in layout but structured in a way which works. We have a limit on the number of people who visit currently, and although masks may be removed once in there they need to be worn upon leaving to walk through the hospital.
The family come in via the main door and enter into a waiting area which is secure and has comfy chairs. There’s a water fountain, a toilet and a phone able to make internal calls in case they need to call the ward or bereavement while they are with us. There’s also a book we don’t expect people to fill out but gives the opportunity to provide feedback if people want to. On the walls there are lovely images of sunsets, this whole area is known as the Sunset Suite.
From that first room there are two further rooms with a glass window and a door separating them. Sometimes viewings are conducted through glass, hence the family are able to only enter the next room and the patient is on the other side of the glass. For most viewings that are conducted, the patient is still in the second room but the family are able to go in with them. We have chairs that can be pulled up to the side of the bed and they can sit with their relative.
Our whole suite was recently decorated and renovated using money kindly donated to the hospital charity. It was something that was desperately needed and has made all the difference for the experience of families who visit. I wasn’t sure about the orange and browns at first when the furniture arrived, but it’s a lovely space with a real warm feeling to it now.
For the last part of this series next week I’ll write a bit about my thoughts and feelings around viewings, but if there’s anything specific you’d like me to cover get in touch.