Helen McArdle Wing opens at Willow Burn Hospice

Interior design central to success of new facility

The new Helen McArdle Wing has been completed at Willow Burn Hospice

The new Helen McArdle Wing at Willow Burn Hospice in County Durham is now open, funded by a donation of £1.5m from entrepreneur and philanthropist, Helen McArdle.

The new facilities provide symptom management, respite care, short breaks and end-of-life care for people with a life-limiting illness.

The building was designed by architect, IDPartnership, and was built by contractor, Walter Thompson.

Bernard Interiors designed and fitted out the inside of the building to create an inviting and comforting contemporary environment.

There is a reception area and community café, a six-room inpatient unit, spa bathroom, and a family lounge. Each inpatient room also has its own bathroom and private balcony.

Kathryn Mason, senior designer at Bernard Interiors, said: “Our brief for the interior came from Helen, who envisioned a warm Scandinavian design which connected with the stunning views of the landscape surroundings.

“We took a piece of artwork at Willow Burn as inspiration. It was created a couple of years ago by patients, staff and volunteers during a project with Dry Water Arts, funded by a Big Lottery Awards for All grant.

“It is a tree, each leaf handmade from felt in vibrant colours, and it is now displayed as the focal point of the reception area. There are pops of the same colours throughout the building.”

The interiors of the new wing are designed to create a contemporary and comfortable for patients, staff and visitors

She added: “It was important to acknowledge the love and care that went into the making of the tree and to ensure that it continues to provide a lasting legacy for all of those who were involved.

“Seeing the whole project come together, and especially the reactions of the staff and patients as it completed, was an absolute joy.”

The scheme is fresh and contemporary using light-toned woods and soft colours against a neutral background.

The natural theme features in the bronze-coloured laser-cut metal fretwork panel at the front of the reception desk and the decal on the glass screen to the café. All the bedroom suites are also named after trees.

“Details are important to give an overall feeling of comfort and luxury,” said Mason.

“Light fittings in the café and reception area are oversized hoops, and contemporary artworks hang in the reception, bedrooms and corridors in bespoke box frames.

“Back-painted glass is used for splashbacks in the bathrooms and kitchen and all the signage uses a champagne-coloured metal lined with white for a clean and crisp finish.”

For the inpatient suites Bernard Interiors worked with hoist manufacturer, Innova, to design a cabinet to house the hoist that was both practical and attractive as a piece of furniture, including lighting and decorative back panels.

The beds are also a bespoke design by Bernard Interiors and MMO Medical, with vinyl-upholstered head and foot boards.

McArdle said: “The interior design combines comfort and style with everything that patients and staff need for care, and it looks absolutely stunning.”

Paul Jackson, chairman of Willow Burn Hospice, added: “The new facilities mean that we are able to care for more people and provide much-improved family support and bereavement services.

“We strive to provide a homely, welcoming environment and the interior design of the new wing not only helps patients to feel more relaxed, but it helps our staff to provide high-quality care maintaining each person’s dignity, privacy and comfort.”

This piece of artwork was created by patients, staff and volunteers and it is now displayed as the focal point of the new reception area