The Countess Charity’s 25th Anniversary ‘Blue Skies Balcony’ appeal

17th July 2020.

The Countess Charity has launched an exciting new appeal to build a garden balcony on the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the hospital so that our poorly patients can benefit from the outdoors in a safe and infection-controlled environment.  All patients, their visitors and staff are set to benefit from this innovative improvement that will make it easier and safer to move patients outside with no loss of space to the existing unit which opened in 2014. 

The Blue Skies Balcony Appeal has been launched in the 25th Anniversary year of The Countess Charity. Ove the years over £16 million pounds has been spent on providing more for our patients at The Countess of Chester Hospital and Ellesmere Port Hospital.

Lesley Woodhead, Head of Fundraising says “The ICU have been keen to make this improvement for their patients for a couple of years and it’s a great appeal for our Anniversary year. Over the last few months there has been so much coverage of ICU units on the TV and in newspapers we hope the Chester community will be with us in understanding why this will make such a difference. On a personal level we all know, now more than ever before that being outside in the fresh air and natural light is key to our health and wellbeing.”

The therapeutic benefits of outdoor exposure to natural light and gardens is proven not only to help to calm patients by providing opportunities for positive escape from stressful clinical settings, but it also fosters improvement in clinical outcomes  – such as reducing pain medication and shortening hospital stays. We are fortunate at The Countess and Ellesmere Port Hospitals to have a lot of outdoor space and some private garden areas on The Stroke Ward, Wards 50 and 51 have The Memory Lane Garden and Ellesmere Port Bluebell have a courtyard area.

Outdoor space is particularly important for our critical care patients who can face a long battle back to health and many weeks in hospital.   It is because of this that The Countess Charity’s Blue Skies Balcony appeal has been launched.  Providing our patients with the opportunity to see skies and the Countess’ much loved ‘mountain view’ will remind them of all the things they have been missing and help act as a spur to their recovery. Dr Simon Ridler, the Consultant leading the project commented: ‘The ability to get our patients outside, however briefly, and expose them to natural light will go a long way towards improving their outcomes and their experience of critical care. Having this facility will make it much easier and safer to transfer patients outside and will potentially allow several patients to use the facility each day. It will put us in the avant-garde of intensive care units in our region.”

Dr Simon Ridler who is a  Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine also commented “Delirium in critical care is a very common and we are seeing it lots in patients in ICU with COVID. People who experience delirium tend not to do as well in the long term and there are national strategies underway aiming to prevent the occurrence and reduce its duration. A key aspect in the treatment and prevention of delirium is to normalise the patient’s night and day cycle as far as possible. Exposure to natural light is fundamental to this.”

ICU has historically been a very isolated and private unit due to safety and infection control. It is now believed that the clinical risks of taking a patient outside are no greater than moving their treatment to another part of the hospital, with the required life support and patient consent.   Survival is only part of the journey for patients in critical care. Patients then need something to live for. By taking patients outside and giving them an experience of what they have been missing is a simple but powerful way of helping to provide for this.  The balcony will also be used for rehabilitation and therapy.  

Karen Boulton, Matron, says

“We cannot underestimate how being taken outside to see natural daylight and feel fresh air positively affects morale and also relives boredom and frustration felt by many critical care patients, some of whom are in ICU for months. The blue skies balcony will be so beneficial.

We are very grateful to Ardagh Metal beverage Trading UK Ltd for getting our appeal off to a fantastic start by donating £8,091! Thank you.”

The appeal is for £500k and we are already off to a great start! A number of companies have chosen us as their Charity of the Year.

Barclays Bank Chester

Myself and the team are honoured to have the opportunity to support this appeal as it is such a thoughtful project. It will benefit so many people including staff, patients and their families. This will make such a difference during an extremely difficult time​” – Rachel Miley – Branch Manager Barclays Bank

How you can help

Follow our Facebook page – The Countess Charity – we will show progress and what we are doing here

Take a collecting tin for your business

Adopt Blue Skies Balcony as your Charity of the Year

Join in with our fundraising activities

Create your own fundraising FUN at home or work

To contact us

We are mostly working at home so please message us on our Facebook page or email us – [email protected]