LISTEN Lodges at King’s: a home from home
Thanks to funding from generous donors, King’s College Hospital is able to offer accommodation to the families of liver transplant patients, meaning that they can have their loved ones nearby throughout their treatment.
Keeping families close
Imagine you’ve been admitted to hospital with a serious liver condition. You’re away from home; it’s stressful and possibly even a little scary. You want your loved ones to be with you, but they live too far away to visit regularly. Here’s where the LISTEN Lodges come in.
King’s LISTEN Lodges are made up of three flats located opposite the hospital on Caldecot Road. There are nine rooms altogether – six twin and three single – all available solely for relatives of people being treated at the King’s Liver Transplant Unit.
The unit runs the largest transplantation programme in Europe, carrying out more than 200 procedures a year. It assesses and treats both adults and children from all over the country, so priority for the lodges is given to families of patients who live outside of the M25. The rooms are tastefully decorated in a modern and homely fashion, even offering toiletries and towels in case someone has had to leave home quickly and forgotten to pack the basics.
The lodges are maintained by LISTEN, a group of patient volunteers and staff from the King’s Liver Unit. The funds raised go towards furnishing and upkeep of the rooms, and volunteers give up their time to help with maintenance such as painting walls and hanging pictures.
Jacomi Malan has been a liver transplant social worker at King’s for 12 years; she also co-manages the LISTEN Lodges with Wendy Littlejohn and sees the benefits the resource offers.
‘Some of our patients have never been to London and view it as the big bad city,’ she says. ‘It can be quite strange and alien and they’re not always comfortable, so it’s very reassuring for them to know there is somebody nearby – it’s important to their psychological wellbeing. So it’s lovely to be able to offer relatives rooms; visitors have said it’s like a home from home.’
The visitors’ book is full of praise and thanks. One reads, ‘I love my room, it’s so comforting at a very worrying time. I will always remember the care and concern provided by all at King’s and LISTEN. Very many thanks to all involved.’
‘The LISTEN Lodges were a godsend’
Adam Kennedy’s mother Sherrel is a long-term patient of the Liver Unit and has been in and out of hospital for many years. The family are from Guernsey, so Adam’s father William has been using the lodges whenever necessary since 2010. In 2013 Sherrel was diagnosed with lymphoma, resulting in a six month stay at King’s.
‘It’s the longest time my mum’s ever been away from Guernsey,’ says Adam. ‘My dad spent almost all that time at the LISTEN Lodges. It was a godsend for him to be on the grounds of the hospital, be able to get to my mum and do everything that’s needed for her. Staying in London is expensive, so it’s really helpful to have that kind of accommodation available to them through LISTEN.’
Adam felt so strongly that ‘the entire family’s indebted to the team there’, that earlier this year he and two friends took on the Three Peaks Challenge in support of the LISTEN Lodges. They raised a fantastic amount of over £3,600 by trekking 27 miles up and down the three tallest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales.
‘Getting to the top of the first mountain was quite a euphoric, emotional experience; not only taking stock of the stunning scenery and the challenge underway, but also the emotional drive behind why we were there,’ says Adam.
‘We were doing it for something so close to our hearts and for other families that seek treatment at King’s or support from LISTEN, so it was really humbling to see just how much people would donate.’
Would you like to fundraise as a way to give something back to King’s like Adam did? Find out how you can fundraise for King’s.