22 April 2021

"If you sit next to someone who is dying, you get a different view": family-friendly cancer ward opened at TCH

| Dominic Giannini
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Nurses and John Chapuis in the new ward

John Chapuis (centre) has welcomed the refurbished ward after spending countless hours with his wife in the hospital in 2016. Photo: Supplied.

John Chapuis would spend hours and days sitting with his wife Lea at the Canberra Hospital before she died of cancer in 2016.

While most people primarily consider the functionality of hospital rooms and equipment, John spent the next four years working with the government on plans to ensure patients and their families in the cancer ward had as much comfort as possible.

And this week, the second stage of the ward’s refurbishment was finally opened, complete with a dining area for families, a therapy gym space, and a more open and airy recreational space.

Mr Chapuis said small changes like having somewhere to sit for long hours are important for families to stay connected with loved ones.

“If you sit next to someone who is dying, you get a different view and a different perspective,” he said.

It also helps the patient’s carers, with Mr Chapuis saying spaces like this would have allowed his sons to visit the ward to have lunch or dinner.

The refurbishment of Ward 14B added four additional bed bays to the existing 28.

Ward 14A opened in 2019. Construction of both stages cost a total of $22.4 million.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the refurbished ward would provide more comfort for patients and their families. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the extra bays will be used to scale up and meet demand and provide additional capacity for the ACT’s cancer clinical trials program.

“There is a lot that has gone into this design and thinking about how this space is going to work for the patients, for the carers and for the staff,” she said.

READ MORE: New specialised cancer ward provides hope and comfort for patients

“The Canberra Region Cancer Centre is a service that is not just for the ACT, it supports the whole southern region of NSW,” she said.

“We will continue to monitor what demand will look like; it is part of the work we are doing for the campus masterplan process.”

The Canberra Hospital masterplan options will be released for public comment in the coming weeks.

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As baby boomers pass into the final stage of life we will need more palliative care at hospitals, hospices and especially at home to help a generation ease out of life with comfort, dignity and compassion.

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