Hope House Children's Hospice

PUBLISHED: 09:55 18 February 2011 | UPDATED: 18:54 20 February 2013

Hope House Children's Hospice

Hope House Children's Hospice

When Howard Franklin visited Hope House Children's Hospice he found a place brimming with hope, love and laughter

I wasinvited as the President of Shropshire Horticultural Society to join the High Sheriff, Hugh Trevor-Jones and his wife Carolyn (Roly), on an official visit to Hope House Childrens Hospice at Morda near Oswestry.
We were met by the appeals director, Simi Epstein, and the fundraising manager for Shropshire and Powys, Vanessa Thomas, who gave us an overview of work of the hospice, and presented a most moving video which included two mothers talking about their children, Connor and Matthew, who had been so lovingly cared for at Hope House. Although these childrens lives were cut short though serious medical conditions, their final months were surrounded with love and laughter. As one mother said: It meant so much to know I wasnt alone.

Hope House, Shropshire, and Ty Gobaith in Conwy, North Wales, provide specialist respite, emergency, palliative and end-of-life care for children with life-limiting conditions. This can include being an in-patient at the hospice or care within the childs own home. Hospice care teams bring together a range of professional skills and services to care for and support all family members.

Hope House Hospice is totally committed to working with families from all faiths, cultures and ethnic backgrounds, and the staff always fully respect the importance of religious customs and cultural needs that may be essential to the daily lives of each family.

Simi, Vanessa and director of care Kath Jones, told us that the number of young people in Great Britain aged between 13 and 24 years who are threatened with terminal conditions is estimated to be between six and ten thousand, and childrens hospices play a key role in the management of their illnesses. Younger children often have conditions for which curative treatment are feasible, but can fail. There are many small children in long-term remission, perhaps from cancer or leukaemia, or children with irreversible organ failures of heart, liver and kidneys.
With conditions such as cystic fibrosis, premature death is inevitable, but there can be long periods of intensive treatment aimed at prolonging life and allowing participation in normal activities. Palliative treatment helps sufferers of Batten disease and muscular dystrophy, as they are progressive illnesses. Finally, there are irreversible but non-progressive conditions which often have severe health complications ,such as severe cerebral palsy and brain and spinal injuries.

The building at Hope House Hospice is beautifully maintained; it is rather like a modern hotel, with eight very individual childrens bedrooms and parent and family rooms, so families can be there together. The facilities are utterly outstanding particularly the music room, multisensory room , young persons lounge, hobbies room, computer centre, hydrotherapy swimming pool, playroom, computer room and a wonderful playground with landscaped gardens. The decor and colours used are bright and enlivening, as the High Sheriff said: Hope House is cheerful and fun-filled, making everything so inviting.

Half-way through the tour, we joined some of the children, their families, carers and nurses for lunch in the dining room. It was a menu of the day which is slanted towards the tastes of children.

I was hoping for fish fingers, but that wish was not to be granted, as the cook was dishing up chicken nuggets, baked potatoes and salad, followed by home-made apple crumble
and custard.

Over lunch, Simi Epstein talked about the Building Bridges programme which includes activity days and outings where brothers and sisters can meet up and share their feelings and worries with others who truly understand. Individual work with children and young people is offered, and support groups are run for parents using the hospice and for those who are grieving.

Vanessa said there is a dedicated and comprehensive professional bereavement and counselling service for families who have lost a child, for as long as it is required. This can be on an individual basis or in family groups. The new self-contained counselling centre which is under construction, will be used at the time of sudden and traumatic childhood bereavement. It costs in the region of 4 million a year to maintain the childrens hospice services and a mere 17 per cent of the income comes from statutory bodies. Local support in Shropshire is vital.When we do nothing we feel overwhelmed and powerless, but when we become involved, there is a real sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing we are working to make things better. Vanessa Thomas said: The economic downturn has made it difficult for everyone. We are trying to keep our head above water, we are so indebted to our amazing Friends groups, who work so hard, and last year raised 46,000 between them, but individuals can help, even the smallest donation adds to the total, and is gratefully received.

Ways to help Hope House...

-You could shop in their 13 charity shops, which sell an incredible range of donated goods. You will be assured of a warm welcome from the volunteer staff.

- Fundraising events take place throughout the year from fashion shows to festive fun runs, support these or perhaps organise a fundraising event in your local community.

- Participate in the Hope House lottery, every week a lucky player wins 1,000. For further information telephone 01691 672610 or email lottery@hopehouse.org.uk

- Please think about making a donation, either a single payment or on a regular basis. If you have fit and healthy children or grandchildren of your own, be thankful for their good health and remember those children who need Hope House.

Hope House Fundraising
Office: Nant Lane, Morda, Oswestry, SY10 9BX.Tel: 01691 671671, email:

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