When your child is seriously ill in hospital, as a parent, you long to be near them and available, but also to be somewhere where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of hospital activity for quiet contemplation wherever you are in the world. This week, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, who herself is the mother of four children, opened an extension to the TrygFonden’s Family House. This facility is adjacent to Aarhus University Hospital; the Crown Princess was taken on a guided tour of the ten new apartments which bring the total up to twenty-two. The first twelve were opened by the Crown Princess in 2012.
The concept for the family home is that it is for families of seriously ill children in the hospital, where the parents could not both be with their children and maintain a normal home life. The idea was that these were very much like holiday cottages, a psychological oasis they could escape to. The original apartments were built in a clearing in a wooded part of the site, in a circle and were both self-contained but also had some communal spaces. The design was created following intensive discussions and research with interested parties, and it was felt that this meant that families could not only have space, but were also together with other families in similar situations and this could hopefully lead to bonding and the families helping each other to get through what can be a traumatic time.
Crown Princess Mary has been involved with several medical projects amongst her relationships with many organisations within both Denmark and her native Australia, both physical and mental. Through her links with the Danish Save the Children she has introduced an anti-bullying programme based on an Australian model. The Crown Princess has also worked with promoting safe practices with regards to skin cancer in Denmark. In her native Australia, she is a Honourary Life Governor of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Centre at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, and the cancer centre at Westmead Hospital in Sydney has been renamed the Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre Westmead. She is currently involved in an anti-obesity programme linked with the World Health Organisation via their Regional Office for Europe.