A long-standing trust working with Auckland hospitals has stepped in and donated $50,000 to the Middlemore Foundation to help upgrade the Bereavement Care area.

The service is unique to Middlemore and the Hector Trust donated the money after it heard about the need for a $70,000 upgrade.

Bereavement Care team leader Ray Wells came to the service by accident. "I was semi-retired when a friend said he knew I was looking for something, and gave me an ad for Bereavement Care. I thought ‘that's not for me', but came in anyway, and I have been here since. It's a wonderful service and totally rewarding role.”

The Hector Trust was established in 1987 by Margaret Gadsdon. It fundraises for hospital equipment, comforts, training, operating room equipment and research – hence the name.

Trust members Nel Gadsdon and Rebecca Gadsdon-Green – Margaret's daughter-in-law and granddaughter – inspected the service facilities recently.

"It's been marvellous to actually see the facility and gain an understanding of what it does,” Mrs Gadsdon said. "This is a bit outside what the trust might normally do, but when you see the work, the level of care and respect for families, you wonder why other hospitals aren't doing it too.”

The service manages all aspects of bereavement throughout Middlemore.

"We manage the process with the doctors and the families involved. It's an incredibly difficult time for people, so having someone who can take of things is important. We do all the paperwork, the transfers to our facilities, we can wash, dress and prepare the deceased for viewing, and manage the transfer to a funeral director,” he said.

"It is about helping the families get what they want. We can do all sorts of things, but we only ever do what families want.”

When the service was established an area was provided, but it was never designed for the purpose. The Hector Trust money will go some way to revamping the family area, two viewing rooms, providing staff better facilities, and screening off work spaces.

The area where the deceased is finally transferred to a funeral director – little more than a garage – will also be upgraded.

"It has been a bit heart-breaking that we go to so much trouble to be respectful of families' needs at a distressing time, then ask them to say their final goodbyes in a space that is less than ideal,” Mr Wells said.

Middlemore Hospital services director Phillip Balmer said the donation would ensure the environment in which support was given met the standards the hospital would want.

"While we have an effective hospice service, more than 1000 people a year live their final days and hours at Middlemore. Our role is to support patients and their families through the process, which includes caring for the patient and family after a death.”

Hector Trust funds come from stallholders who operate within hospitals. All the money is returned to the hospital it was raised in.

Mrs Gadsdon died in 2005 but her work continued under her two sons Alan and Peter. The trust has provided more than $2 million to hospitals, and in 2008 established Margaret Gadsdon Endowment Fund to sponsor staff to attend courses to further their skills.

"My grandmother was focused on making sure patients and staff were cared for, so she would be delighted we are involved in a service that is about leaving people honoured and respected,” Mrs Gadsdon-Green said.

Counties Manukau Health is encouraging the area's funeral directors to make up the $20,000 shortfall. The Troup Funeral Home has already made a donation, but members of the public can also help by contacting the Middlemore Foundation on 09 270-8808 or emailing david.kemeys@middlemore.co.nz.