Oversized ‘Cuddle Beds’ Bringing Families Closer To Palliative Care Patients

cuddle

For some families, having a loved one enter palliative care is the point where the hopes and dreams of recovery begin to make way for the grim reality of impending death.

Palliative care is a family-centered model of care that is focused on a patient’s level of comfort and overall quality of life, and one of the key aspects of providing this comfort is ensuring that families and patients are given the chance to connect and get as close as they feel they need to.

Physical contact provides both a mental and physical representation of the fact that you are there for a person, and there is no better example of this than the warmth and comfort that a person can receive from a cuddle.

And this is why oversized ‘cuddle beds’ are having such a massive impact for both the families and patients in Palliative Care.

Cuddle Beds are a simple yet innovative product that is bringing joy to palliative care patients and their families in Queensland. These oversized beds contain enough room for family members to lay down beside their loved ones living in palliative care and provide physical touch and comfort from close quarters.

These beds have been used by a variety of family members including whole families looking to say their final goodbyes to a grandparent, a husband or wife comforting their dying spouse, and even parents who are trying to comfort a terminally ill child.

Occupational Therapist, Russell Plumbridge-Jones said in an interview with the ABC that the idea was pitched by hospital staff in 2017.

“One of the people that actually inspired this was a mother who was here with her 21-year-old son, and it came about because she said that she felt that physical barrier,” he said.

“With him being her only child, she wanted to be there with him at his end of life and she was leaning through the bars and holding him.

“She said to have this [cuddle bed] option would have been life-changing for her.”

The therapist said patients going through the health process often became disconnected from their loved ones.

“We help them reconnect both physically and emotionally, so they feel like they can let go and time to move on, but they’ve got that connection at end-of-life,” he said

Reconnecting


The emotional toll that comes with trying to process your-own-death leaves a lot of palliative care patients feeling disconnected from family and friends.

No matter how sympathetic or understanding someone may be, they are simply unable to fully relate or comprehend what a person who is approaching the end of their life is going through and this dynamic can actually make a palliative care patient feel lonely despite having people around.

Family members who visit loved ones in palliative care often spend a large portion of their visiting time holding a patient’s hand in an attempt to feel closer to them, and it is not uncommon to see people sleeping in chairs, roll out beds and even on the floor to remain close to a patient.

A number of palliative care staff believe that hearing is the last sense to go when someone is dying, and Cuddle Beds provide family members with an opportunity to whisper “I love you,” while wrapping their arms around a loved one as they die.

It goes without saying that Cuddle Beds are an option that many palliative care environments would love to offer, but with a cost of $10,000 it is understandable why they are currently a choice that not many are able to make.

There are currently two operational Cuddle Beds in Queensland, and they both happen to be on the Gold Coast. Robina Hospital’s palliative care ward has one, and the other can be found at the Gold Coast University Hospital.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said that there would be two more of these beds rolled out on the Gold Coast despite the hefty price tag.

“I’ve got no doubt that’s hospitals across the state will be looking to the Gold Coast to hear about their experiences,” he said.

“If it’s successful, no doubt many hospitals will look within their budgets to install them to meet the demand of the community.”

 

Photo Courtesy of ABC

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  1. Not sure if we could source a pressure relieving air mattress that is big enough for these beds
    Also it may pose an OH&S risk for staff trying to provide pressure area care and having to lean across

    1. Maybe in the last stage of life, being close to other human beings is more important than the requirements of the matrass.
      And we have sent people to the moon so it MIGHT be possible. That and a way for staff to give care in the last days.
      Not being disrespectful of nursing trade but shall we first look at possiblity and humanised care?

    2. Prehaps there is the option of still having a pressure mattress and a single mattress side by side. When my parents had pasted away i climb in the bed with them as it brought comfort to us both and yes it made a world of difference for both of us. In fact my sisters seen me dothis and they also did the same. Means so much with little time left to spend with them.

  2. I crammed myself into the hospital bed with my mom her last months/weeks of her life, and she died while I was next to her in bed, touching her. Prior to that, I spent her last years next to her in her bed at home, talking, doing my work, folding laundry or just watching TV. I’m so glad this is being done. Neither my mom nor I were thinking about the mattress those last few weeks.

  3. I work on a palliative ward and believe this is a brilliant idea. I too have seen so many families climb into the single bed to hold their loved ones in the final hours, if I were dying I know I would want this. Especially when some patients are not mentally ready to die.

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