Birmingham & Black Country

Fisher House: Troops' family home officially opened

A building for the families of injured forces personnel has been officially opened by the Prince of Wales.

Fisher House cost £4.2m and is within walking distance of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine in Birmingham where injured soldiers are treated.

The property has 18 en-suite rooms and families stay for free while relatives receive medical treatment.

Charities including Help for Heroes and the US-based Fisher House Foundation helped fund the project.

Relatives of the injured began using the building in the grounds of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in March.

About 100 people, including some from Help the Heroes, members of staff and patients were there for the official opening.

Mike Hammond, charity chief executive at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital said he believed having the building on site helped to provided emotional support.

The patients worry about the welfare of their families so having them down the road gives them peace of mind, he said.

"Having Prince Charles open the building is the pinnacle of the project and a reflection of how important the patients and their families are," he said.

'In a bubble'

Elaine Mercer, whose son is currently receiving care, believes being able to stay a 10-minute walk away from him had helped her "enormously".

She said: "It's a safe haven. All the worry that goes with having somebody who's been injured was taken away.

"The staff took over, they explained everything that was going to happen next and they put us in a bubble. They look after us.

"We don't have to think about anything else apart from our loved ones who are in hospital.

"When I first arrived there were quite a few families here.

"They knew how I felt and they just sat and let me talk and talk and talk."

Residents retain their independence and have access to a range of facilities enabling them to cook and clean and carry out other day-to-day activities.

The home's manager Patrick Hogan said his job was a rewarding one.

"We do have the most distressed relatives but... the coping skills they possess are unbelievable," Mr Hogan said.

"It's a very humbling experience to work with the families who are here.

"It's an aid for the patient and it's also an aid for the parents, wives, siblings, whoever, to be that close."

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