Alex O'Brien


“Human rooms” to revolutionise hospice care

“Human rooms” to revolutionise hospice care

The final days of a terminally ill patient are understandably sombre, stressful and heartbreaking, but one Australian artist is aiming to change that. Efterpi Soropos, a Melbourne visual artist, has created Human Rooms, an immersive audio-visual therapy space for people nearing the end.

Soropos began developing Human Rooms in 2007 after studying the impact of palliative care units’ visual environments on patients. Her project aimed to ease anxiety and stress levels, fear and pain in terminally ill patients and their families. It is also helping people suffering from mental illnesses and chronic medical conditions.

Speaking to ABC News, Soropos said, "When my mother had breast cancer and was dying in 1995 I had this desire to improve the space that people are in when they are vulnerable."

The rooms offer sessions between 20 and 120 minutes and use a combination of light, music and video to help distract patients from any pain or anxiety brought on by their illness.

Soropos believes that as a result of the installations, people have experienced a much more peaceful death. “Sometimes it brings about a sense of acceptance, because they have become immersed in the content and they have been able to relieve their mind of any psychological suffering that they are experiencing,” she explains.

“Sometimes it brings about an emotional response. Any palliative care professional would tell you that any emotional response at that time is a good thing because often people are holding on to a lot of frustration, anger, grief and sadness.”

For more information on Human Rooms, click here.

Image: Efterpi Soropos

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