Bath Time at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Fancy a bath? This week we take a look at the bathrooms at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The main building’s of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital were built in stages from 1954 to 1959. They included all the modern amenities that the 1950s could offer, such as; personal telephones for patients, central heating and a silent paging system. At the time the TQEH was considered the most up-to-date hospital in the state.

These amenities extended to the bathrooms, where bath tubs were built into raised plinths to assist nurses in bathing patients. However, for all the modern improvements that 1950s hospital design brought some hospital experiences were still far from pleasant. CALHN Health Museum volunteer and retired nurse, Pam Venus, shares her recollections of the bathrooms:

What can I say about the bathroom? Each ward had one for every 32 patients. It was a stark and cold room. The windows leaked all the “winds” from the South. It was literally a “bath” room. Terrazzo on the floor and off white tiles completely covered the walls. The bath was in the centre of the room and raised on a 2 foot high plinth. Two Large steps on the left hand side led up the side of the bath for ease of entering the water. Chrome grab rails led up the stairs and at the head of the bath where the taps were.

If the patients were not ambulant, orderlies were called to lift the patient from their beds into the bath, therefore the bathroom was large enough to fit the bed as well. If you were lucky there was a chair on which to place your clothes. The room was very clinical and did not encourage the patient to wallow in the water, the bathroom was aptly named as a room just to have a bath in.

These bathrooms are no longer in use in the hospital, however some remain as reminders as to how things use to operate at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Photo of one of the Bathroom’s from 2018, now used as a storeroom.

Written by Jonathan Hull, CALHN Health Museum.