Little items, big impact: 46 Comfort and Care grants recently awarded to enhance the patient experience


Yong Feng Liu, pictured with nurse Darren Sharpe (left), enjoys a warm blanket during her cancer treatment at the QEII’s Medical Day Unit.

In December 2020, more than $109,000 was awarded to 46 QEII projects as part of the QEII Foundation’s Comfort and Care program – funding items that make a big difference for patients and their families.

As part of this program, QEII staff and physicians apply for these one-time grants to improve the patient experience.

Awarded on an annual basis, QEII Foundation Comfort and Care grants are given to projects that demonstrate a direct and immediate impact for patients and include items that typically wouldn’t be funded by hospital operating budgets.

From blanket warmers and bedside chairs to exercise bikes and starlight projectors, these are just a few of the things donors have made possible by supporting Comfort and Care grants.

A recent project includes purchasing bright light therapy lamps to help brighten the patient experience within the QEII’s Mood Disorders Clinic, Epilepsy Monitoring Unit and Stroke Unit. These devices omit ultraviolet (UV) light to mimic sunlight and can help those struggling with depression.

By establishing a library of therapy lamps, QEII patients can use these during their time in hospital but also borrow the lamps – at no cost – to use at home.

Another Comfort and Care grant recently awarded is funding pocket talkers – handheld devices that amplify sound – for the QEII’s Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Clinic and Bone and Joint Program.

According to QEII teams within these care areas, a large percentage of their patients experience hearing loss and, in many cases, cannot afford or do not have access to a hearing aid device. This can make communication incredibly difficult, impacting a patient’s ability to clearly hear and understand medical information and directions.

These portable pocket talkers offer a solution, amplifying sounds closest to the listener while reducing background noise. They’re easy to clean, compatible with the hospital-supplied headphones that are available on all units, and ideal for multiple-patient use.


pocket talker
Pictured: Example of a portable pocket talker device.

The ability to hear and be heard is always important, but it’s especially true in a healthcare setting. Thanks to QEII Foundation donors, these pocket talkers will be available to the patients who need them – improving their overall care experience.

For QEII Foundation president and CEO, Susan Mullin, who joined the organization in July 2020, this latest Comfort and Care competition marked the first time she was a part of the grant review process. Susan was part of the committee – which includes QEII frontline and administrative staff and QEII Foundation donors and volunteers – who reviewed nearly 100 applications for this year’s Comfort and Care grants.

“Part of what makes these grants so special is that they’re entirely driven by QEII teams,” says Susan. “These are healthcare providers who are so committed to their patients that they go above-and-beyond in their roles to identify projects and items that will have an immediate and meaningful impact on day-to-day care within their areas.”

For Pam Davidson, Comfort and Care committee chair and longtime QEII Foundation volunteer and board director, it was those applications that stood out the most.

“Often, it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference,” says Pam. “Our donors are funding items that otherwise wouldn’t be available to QEII patients and their healthcare teams – that’s incredibly rewarding.”

Whether it’s furniture at the bedside that allows loved ones to remain nearby or exercise equipment – like foot-pedal bikes and yoga equipment – that can be used for both patient recreation and recovery, comfort matters.

“We’re so grateful to our donors who make these annual grants possible – funding everyday comfort so patients and their families can focus on what matters most,” says Pam.

To date, the QEII Foundation has disbursed more than $1.6 million in Comfort and Care grants at the QEII Health Sciences Centre. To learn more about their impact, click here.

Comfort and Care grant applications for 2021 will be opening soon.