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Catherine’s Room is a small and humble closet which stays tucked away at Mater, however provides a very necessary and needed service to some of Mater’s most vulnerable patients.
Pastoral Care Practitioner Mary Sheehan set up Catherine’s Room, named after Sisters of Mercy Founder Catherine McAuley, seven years ago as she noticed an unmet need among Mater patients for basic clothing and toiletries.
“You don’t always come to hospital prepared, you might be wearing pyjamas, have no shoes, or your clothing may have been cut off or soiled,” Mary explains.
“By offering patients a clean change of clothes or shoes to go home with we are able to demonstrate in a practical way our respect for their dignity.”
Mary explains it’s not just short stay patients who need help; long stay patients may lose weight during their time and find their clothing no longer fits them or seasons may be changing and they need something warmer.
“Often the people we are helping are incredibly vulnerable they may be socially isolated with little to no family with them,” she said.
“We also have people come through the hospital who have been sleeping rough and we may be able to offer them toiletries or multiple outfits to provide some small relief.
“Our nursing teams, social workers, Refugee Health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison officers alert us to a patient who might require clothing. They do a fantastic job as they are so attentive to their patient’s needs.”
Clothing is either donated by generous Mater staff, or purchased through donated funds from Mater Foundation. Recently Catherine’s Room was the beneficiary of a welcome donation of women’s clothing from The Betty Cares Foundation thanks to the corporate partnership work of Mater Foundation.
“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Mater staff, they do give so generously to the room,” Mary said.
“Most patients are genuinely taken by surprise when we’re able to provide them with clothing. They’re humbled and grateful, and to have made a positive difference to someone lifts the spirit of everyone involved.”
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