Sleeper chairs help families support loved ones in hospital

Sleeper chairs help families support loved ones in hospital

Richard Marchalewicz hates sleeping alone in the hospital. He has been at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre (JHCC) for a week and before that was at the St. Catharine’s General.

He has had leukemia for seven years but only recently did he start to get sicker. He’s receiving treatment and undergoing tests to try and find out why. It’s a scary, tiring process and he needs his family for support.

“It’s important to help him at night,” says Jenny. “He feels more comfortable having somebody there.”

Every night, either his mother, Jenny, or his sister, Judy, sleeps by his side.

“It’s important to help him at night,” says Jenny. “He feels more comfortable having somebody there.”

They sleep in a special chair called a sleeper chair that converts to a single bed. It can be tucked away during the day to create more space in the room and pulled out at night for a more comfortable sleep.

Judy says it has allowed her and her mom to get the rest they need to provide Richard with the support he needs. “You can’t compare it to your own bed,” she says, “but it’s much better than sleeping in a chair.”

Judy Marchalewicz sits in a sleeper chair at her brother's bedside

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) has three of them at JHCC thanks to the Hamilton Health Sciences Volunteer Association (HHSVA). The VA operates over 50 shops and services at HHS sites including parking services, cafes and gift shops. All profits are donated back to the hospitals to support programs and purchases that other funding cannot cover. When staff members, visitors and patients buy a coffee or use a parking garage, that money goes back into patient care.

“We take great pride in knowing that the work we do and the funds we raise for the hospital can have such a meaningful impact on the patient experience.”

The HHSVA identified sleeper chairs as a funding priority because they are frequently requested by families and staff members and make a big difference in a patient’s experience. “We receive so many requests for equipment donations each year that the decision of which items to fund is often very difficult,” says Trevor Stooke, board of directors chair for HHSVA. “Our mission is to enhance patient care at Hamilton Health Sciences. We know that, for patients, having family members close while they are in hospital can greatly improve their comfort.”

The HHSVA has received grateful feedback about the chairs from staff and families who can see them making a difference to patients. “The sleeper chairs provide a comfortable place for family to both sit and sleep so that they can spend as much time as possible with their loved one,” says Stooke. “We take great pride in knowing that the work we do and the funds we raise for the hospital can have such a meaningful impact on the patient experience.”

It may seem like a small contribution, but it’s important to remember that when you buy a coffee from a hospital café, or order flowers through Giving Blooms, you are making a difference to patients like Richard.