First Hospice Bright Space Opens
Center Director Heather Santiemmo and Assistant Director Dana Blanagh led the team from The Early Education Center at Zurich who created the space. Heather, who has helped create four other Bright Spaces, got the idea for doing one at the hospice when a family member was there.
“We would go there daily, and there was just a small room with a TV for the kids, so they were running up and down the hall,” says Heather. “There was an outside space, but nothing to play with. We were constantly shushing them.”
“Children can spend long hours here, and need stimulation, an opportunity to rest, and an area conducive to many different levels of interaction,” said Bonnie O’Guinn, Director of Clinical Operations for Alexian Brothers Hospice. “These children are going through grief in the loss of a parent or grandparent and need play time to process this experience.”
“Doing the Bright Space there was completely out of the box,” says Heather. “It was thanks for the great care they provide at a hard time for families.”
The space is a family room style environment for people to relax while visiting family members. Children are supervised by family, with occasional staff supervision. They would like to use the space for some informal therapy for families and potentially as a space for children to interact with chaplains and social workers. And a trunk full of balls and items to play with in the outside space was provided also.
While most Bright Spaces serve children staying in homeless shelters, the Foundation has also opened Bright Spaces in domestic violence shelters, courthouses, hospitals, neonatal intensive care units, and women’s prisons.