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Ward a big change; This week the Homelife team faced a very special challenge - how to help brighten life up for the children and staff at Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow.

THE first priority at Yorkhill Hospital is to lavish loads of tender, loving care on the thousands of children who pass through its doors every year.

So the staff don't have much time to think about giving the wards a fresh coat of paint.

But as a special Christmas treat we decided to bring some festive cheer to the Glasgow hospital by giving it a magical makeover.

In an average year, over 24,000 in-patients, 10,000 day patients and 90,000 out- patients are treated at the hospital.

And that makes the maintenance problems a major headache, according to estates manager, John Hughan.

He said: "It's a bit like the Forth Bridge. As soon as we've finished decorating the last room in the hospital, it's time to start all over again."

Clinical director Catherine McColl thought that the treatment room for the burns unit and a waiting area for orthopaedic patients were most in need of some intensive care.

Homelife designer Laura Gill was brought in to examine them and her diagnosis was that drastic surgery was needed.

Laura said: "Like any other hospital, Yorkhill doesn't have a lot of extra cash to spend on decor.

"John Hughan's team have done wonders, with lots of fun murals throughout the buildings.

"But the burns treatment room was crying out for some cheerful decor, while the waiting area was lacking in creature comforts for the families of patients."

The burns treatment room was the first to receive attention.

Laura said: "The main problem was to come up with an idea that would appeal to all the patients, from babies to teenagers.

"I didn't want to go for too trendy a theme, or it would have become dated too quickly.

"Since water is always relaxing, I thought I'd splash out and turn the area into a fantasy deep sea world.

"In the treatment room, the kids spend most of their time lying flat on their backs , so my aim was to create a fun, fantasy decor that gave them something to look at from every angle."

On paper, Laura's ideas looked fantastic, with the walls painted golden sand, merging into waves that lapped on to the ceiling.

There were loads of cute sea creatures in every colour, all highlighted with ripples of light. Although she wanted to cause as littledisruption as possible, Laura at first thought it was going to be impossible to get everything done in a week.

But when people throughout Scotland heard what was happening, the Record was flooded with offers of help.

First, Derek Collins and staff from his Airdrie company, Decorating Techniques, arrived to do the basic preparation work of cleaning and stripping all the surfaces.

Then, following Laura's designs, Derek's team decorated the walls and ceiling, and soon seashells were being washed up on the beach, and bright tropical fish were darting in and out of the waves.

Already, the staff thought the treatment room was looking a treat, but now it was the turn of Lightbox UK and Universal Fibre Optics (UFO) to help.

Wendy Hosie, director of Lightbox UK, knows all about the therapeutic benefits of good lighting.

Her company, which has branches in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Falkirk, specialises in manufacturing natural daylight lighting for hospitals and businesses where people are suffering from depression associated with sick building syndrome. Lightbox also has a division supplying advice and products for customers with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

For the Yorkhill treatment room, Wendy was determined the lighting should be fantastic and, thanks to Coldstream-based Universal Fibre Optics, the kids can now lie back and look at a glittering waterfall of light.

Over in North Queensferry, Scotland's world class aquarium had also heard about the makeover going on a Yorkhill. Deep Sea World decided to share some of their visitor attractions.

Together with one of their suppliers, Ravensden, they donated posters and fishy friends including Tommy the Turtle.

Then Laura added a few finishing touches. She made an oilskin curtain to conceal the treatment cupboard with fabric supplied by Texcraft, and then decorated the walls and ceilings with the cutest collection of sealife she could design or buy.

Catherine McColl said: "I'm hugely impressed. Usually the children have to be coaxed into the treatment room, but now they've been queuing up for a chance to go into this fantasy fairyland.

"The doctors and nurses are also finding it incredibly relaxing and a joy to work in."

Then Laura turned her attention to the waiting area. She said: "One wall is all window, looking out at a brick wall. My daughter Jenny has been a patient in orthopaedics, and I've spent hours looking at that wall.

"One option was a curtain, but since the area was a bit dull, I thought some kind of window painting would be better. But I wasn't sure I had the expertise."

Then Glasgow-based interior shop, Decorum, suggested a solution.

Kim Douglas, an expert in decorative glass panels, gave the waiting room window a view worth waiting for, colouring and leading the glass in a clown design, with a big burst of sunshine in the middle, and balloons floating into the clouds.

Meanwhile, Derek Collins and his Decorating Techniques team gave the dark wood panelling a new lilac look and painted the ceiling tiles brilliant white.

The old lighting was replaced with bright white spots courtesy of B&Q. And the sagging seating was replaced with bright blue chairs supplied by Brown's Furniture Company, of Hillington in Glasgow. A tiled coffee table from Forrest Furnishing, a potted palm from Glasgow florist, Branching Out, and a few accessories like the metal magazine rack, and the visitors and staff were seeing the dull waiting area in a bright new light.

John Hughan said: "What's great about both makeovers is that they've given us so many ideas. Now our team will be ragging and rolling new paints effects.

"We'd like to thank the Daily Record team and all the companies who helped with the transformations. It's the first time anyone's ever offered this kind of help to Yorkhill, and the results are stunning.

"No one wants to be in hospital over the holiday period, but Homelife have helped make it better for the kids and the staff."

Homelife would like to thank: Derek Collins, Decorating Techniques; Wendy Hosie, Lightbox UK; Universal Fibre Optics; Deep-Sea World, North Queensferry, Fife; Texcraft Ltd; Brown's Furniture Company; B&Q Warehouse; Branching Out; Landscape Gardening; Decorum, and Forrest Furnishing.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Ensor, Nan
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 26, 1998
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