Your support is helping to fund the complete refurbishment of our children’s hospice, Naomi House. After 18 years of running, it was looking rather worn and outdated, and was facing different demands to those from 17 years ago as a result of technological advances. A simple example of this is that there weren’t enough power sockets to charge the children’s motorised wheelchairs! Also, as a result of medical progressions many children are now living for longer and growing bigger than previously expected, and so we needed extra space to accommodate them and their (larger) equipment!
The donation from Kids for Life is helping us to update and expand our children’s hospice so that it is better equipped to meet the needs of the children who come to stay here. We are introducing some very new technologies into the building, such as a totally bespoke air circulation system, piped oxygen to all bedrooms and other measures that will increase Naomi House’s efficiency, reducing the hospice’s operating costs in the long run. Furthermore, the bedrooms and living/activity areas for children and families will be better equipped and more spacious, so that the benefits will be felt by everyone who visit.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
We are incredibly lucky here, because our fundraising office is based right above one of our hospices, so we have the privilege of seeing and hearing the children and young adults having fun in the garden outside. A lot of people imagine children’s hospices to be sad and hushed environments, whereas the reality is very different. Yes, there are very difficult times, and the whole hospice feels the devastation of a child dying, however there is so much more to what we do. We are passionate about giving life-limited and life-threatened children the best chance at a happy and fulfilled life. The biggest service we offer is respite care, which is when children visit for a few nights so that their parents (who are their full time carers at home) can have a break and just be ‘mum’ or ‘dad’. While the children are here, we give them loads of fun things to do, like messy play, music and multi-sensory therapy, games, movie nights, trips to the park and crazy challenges on the lawn outside. Children love coming here – it’s like their holiday – and our nursing, care and play staff do an amazing job at making sure the children are happy and thriving. It’s such a privilege to work here and be a part of the difference our services make to the families we support.
What presents the biggest challenges for the hospice?
There are so many challenges; we cover a wide area (seven counties) and demand for our services is constantly increasing – as well as the medical acuity in children being referred to us. Our staff are constantly honing their skills, learning how to operate new pieces of equipment or treatment procedures so that we can give families complete peace of mind that their child will be fully cared for when they stay. Every child is different and we need to make sure we know exactly what they need, what they like, what they don’t like… again, this is where our care staff excel.
Another huge challenge is raising the income we need to run our two hospices and deliver our plans to the communities we serve. Each year we need to raise £7 million, and only 11% of this is provided by statutory sources, so we rely almost entirely on voluntary donations to keep our hospices open.
What advances in care and support are you looking to implement in the future?
Well, for starters our refurbishment of Naomi House is already bringing about huge advances in our ability to provide care and support. Each bedroom will be supplied directly with piped oxygen so that children won’t have to bring in large machines to aid their breathing – it will all be here already, and creatively tucked away into the hospice walls. All of the major care areas will have ceiling mounted hoists which are far easier to use than portable hoists and greatly reduce the risk of back injury and strain to the carers. Furthermore, most of the bathrooms will be fitted with height adjustable sinks and toilets and wash and dry facilities so that the children will be able to experience greater independence and dignity.
On an ongoing basis, our Practice Educators, who are members of our nursing staff, continue to develop their skills and knowledge of medical developments, which they then share with their fellow colleagues. This ensures that we are able to provide the highest level of medical care, fully supporting the increasingly complex and acute medical conditions exhibited in the children and young people being referred to us.
As an organisation we are constantly reviewing the needs of the children and families we support, and looking at ways to overcome barriers that inhibit access to our services. Increasingly we are partnering with other hospice service providers to provide effective support to families who are on the fringes of our reach area, and over the past year we have been piloting a home-based care service which enables families to experience a few hours’ respite, or even to manage family outings which would not otherwise have been possible.
Naomi House and Jack’s Place Hospices in Hampshire play an incredible role in the provision of support for children affected by life threatening illnesses and their families – not only in Hampshire, but extending to Wiltshire, West Sussex, Dorset, Berkshire, Surrey and the Isle of Wight.
Hundreds of children and young people are in their care as we speak and the care and support they offer brings much needed relief in a number of ways including 24 hour respite care for families, end of life and bereavement support and community support.
Naomi House recently launched an appeal to raise much needed funding to refurbish their hospice and Kids for Life were more than happy to help out! We have sponsored a leaf on the Giving Tree that is housed in the hospice, providing a boost for the provision of care and assistance to life limited and life threatened children in their care.