Much-needed refurbishment work to the Islands Accommodation Unit at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital is due to start next week.
The accommodation, a lifeline for families who have to spend time in Aberdeen prior to or after the birth of their babies, had become run down and badly in need of modernisation.
Thanks to active fundraising, mainly in Orkney but also in Shetland and Grampian, plus contributions from the health boards in the three areas, the unit will now benefit from a £150,000 facelift.
Operations manager at the maternity hospital Susan Fraser said the re-fit would bring the unit up to modern standards and would be “revitalised”. She said: “We will be bringing the whole accommodation up to modern standards, it will be what [people] would expect.”
The eight bedrooms, four single and four double, will be redecorated and be equipped with new beds.
A new self-catering kitchen will be installed, benefiting from brand new units, and the two toilets will be refurbished and have wash hand basins installed within the cubicles. The shower room, which had previously been a cause of complaint because it had to be accessed outside the accommodation corridor in the social work department, is to be upgraded and have a new entrance within the accommodation unit.
The former sitting room (which was a smoking room), will become an additional bedroom, and the dining room will be transformed into the sitting room with new furnishings and fittings. The refurbished kitchen will have enough space to eat in.
The accommodation also comprises an ironing room and laundry room. Some of the old carpets in the unit will be replaced with lino to make the unit cleaner-looking.
Ms Fraser said: “The new accommodation will be a great facility for the women of Shetland, and we’d like to thank all the fund-raisers who put so much time and effort into this.”
The unit will close on Monday to allow the area to be cleared before work starts on 30th November. Work is expected to take between 14 and 16 weeks.
The fund-raising campaign in Orkney was started around two years ago by Janette Park, who spent 11 weeks away when her second son was born at 29 weeks. The first four weeks were in Dundee before they were moved to Aberdeen. The superior standard of accommodation in Dundee set her thinking about fundraising for the Aberdeen unit.
“I promised that I would raise £10,000 for them within a year to allow them to give the place a facelift.” A separate bank account for the Orkney donations was opened, and eventually over £26,000 was raised in a year: this was matched by both NHS Grampian and NHS Orkney. The Friends of the Neo-natal unit gave £30,000 and the total handed over was in the region of £108,000.
More recently the AMHIA Shetland Fund was set up. Marina Manson from Whiteness, who spent time in the unit while awaiting the birth of twins Reuben and Jessie, decided with a group of other like-minded mothers it was time Shetland made its contribution and is now the group’s chairwoman.
The fund has already raised several thousand pounds towards the unit through Sunday teas and other events.
More are planned, including a sale and teas at Whiteness & Weisdale Hall on Sunday and a bag-packing day at Tesco on Friday 18th December. Anyone who wishes to help out or join the committee, currently comprising Marina, secretary Amy Leask, also from Whiteness, and treasurer Sarah-Jane Moore from Lerwick, should contact the group at email@example.com. Donations can be sent to Sarah-Jane at 13 Burgess Street, Lerwick, ZE1 0PP.
Families from the islands and remoter regions of the Grampian Health Board area are entitled to use the unit, located in the hospital, for free on a first-come, first-served basis.