A major project to upgrade paediatric rooms at the largest hospital in north-east Scotland was recently completed thanks to a large donation from one of the region’s leading firms.

Aberdeen-headquartered metal recycling, decommissioning and steel tubularsbusiness John Lawrie Group donated £25,000 to fund the refurbishment of five rooms in the paediatric assessment unit (PAU) at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.  The project was managed by The ARCHIE Foundation, the official charity of Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.

Carried out during the summer months, the refurbishment has transformed the rooms from beige boxes into colourful spaces that have a more homely, welcoming feel.  This has been achieved by adding geometric designs to the walls and cupboards, installing colour changing LED lights, fitting wood effect vinyl floors and adding new comfortable chairs.  Replacing curtains with blinds has allowed the large window sills to be better utilised by families, helping to maximise the limited space available in each room.

The project brought challenges for the design team as the décor and materials used had to be gender neutral, conform to clinical standards and withstand the rigors of hospital trolleys and thorough cleaning.

PAU is where children who have attended Accident and Emergency are kept under observation for up to 24 hours and if not discharged are transferred to a medical ward.  It is hoped that by making the rooms more vibrant and feel part of a children’s hospital, it will help to put families more at ease at what can be a worrying time.  An added benefit of the colourful décor is that it has lifted the spirits of nursing staff, which can help keep children and their families upbeat during their stay.

Drew McDonald, Acting Senior Charge Nurse for PAU said: “After 10 years in use, the rooms were looking tired and in need of updating. Children like bright surroundings, colours and lights and the refurbishment has made the rooms warmer and more welcoming. The child-friendly design also provides a distraction that can help us do our jobs.

“As staff, we endeavour to always give the best patient care and so to be able to give the patients the rooms they deserve, it really adds to our pride in our work and our surroundings.”

The ARCHIE Foundation supports the healthcare of sick children either when they are in hospital or if they require long-term medical treatment. Its funds purchase specialist equipment, provide parent accommodation, underwrite improvements to patient facilities, enhance staff training, buy children’s toys, support research and pay for specialist staff.

Cassie Thompson, director of partnerships at The ARCHIE Foundation, said: “Without the support of sponsors like the John Lawrie Group, these improvements just couldn’t go ahead. The rooms look fantastic and are already making the difference – not only to children and families, but also to staff. The NHS gives children the most amazing care and this generous donation has allowed ARCHIE to provide surroundings to match.”

Cassie Thompson of The Archie Foundation with John Lawrie Group's Charlie Parker

John Lawrie Group had no hesitation in funding the refurbishment after clearly seeing the positive impact it would have on families across north and north-east Scotland if they needed the hospital’s services.  The firm’s operations and workforce are based in a similar area to that served by Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.  Alongside its main metal recycling site in Aberdeen, John Lawrie Group operates similar facilities in Montrose, Evanton near Invernessand Lerwick on Shetland.

Charlie Parker, John Lawrie Group financial director, said: “This project resonated with the whole team at John Lawrie Group.  There is a chance that anyone who has children may end up at the hospital, so we are very pleased to have funded this refurbishment – one that will benefit families across north and north-east Scotland and the Northern Isles.

“The ARCHIE Foundation has done a great job in transforming the rooms, which feel much warmer and less clinical than before.  Hopefully, the new decor will help families to relax a little during what can be a nervous time.  From chatting to the nurses it was also interesting to hear how the bright colours and designs have helped lift their spirits, meaning it is creating a better environment for everyone to spend time in.”