Hospice reaches £1m fundraising mark for new inpatients unit

PUBLISHED: 06:25 20 May 2018

A bird's eye view of what the overhauled hospice will look like. Picture: St Peter's Hospice.

A bird's eye view of what the overhauled hospice will look like. Picture: St Peter's Hospice.

St Peter's Hospice.

More than £1million has been raised for the new inpatients unit at St Peter’s Hospice, but more funding is needed for the ‘once-in-a-generation’ project to become a reality.

Building work is continuing at a frantic pace at the hospice’s base in Bristol to ensure it can provide ‘21st century care’ for terminally ill patients from North Somerset and surrounding areas.

Times editor Tom Wright got to have a tour of the site to see how the £7million project is progressing.

What is happening?

The day hospice team at St Peter's Hospice. The day hospice team at St Peter's Hospice.

St Peter’s has run from Brenty since 1998, but its inpatients unit was no longer suitable to meet its needs.

A fresh approach was needed and therefore hospice bosses decided to demolish the 20-year-old department and instead build a modern equivalent in its place.

The Room To Care Appeal, worth £1.53million, was launched in October in a bid to make the exciting vision a reality.

The old shared bedrooms have gone, with 15 individual rooms coming in their place. Each room will have a private en-suite and glass doors meaning patients can enjoy the gardens and patio areas.

Greater emphasis is being placed on families too. A hospice by its very nature specialises in end-of-life care and therefore time with family can be precious and create memories which last a lifetime. So spare beds are going to be included in rooms to give people a chance to spend final days with loved ones.

A sanctuary, larger café, more offices and communal spaces also form part of the rebuild.

And the nurses’ station will be in a central location so staff can see easily down both corridors.

Caroline Quentin visiting the hospice in May. Caroline Quentin visiting the hospice in May.

How is the project progressing?

The end of last year saw the old unit torn down and the rebuild is well under way, with the building now watertight.

The project was always expected to take about a year to complete, so inpatients are temporarily staying in Keynsham while the construction work is going on.

A slight delay to proceedings – in part due to spring-time snow – means schedules have had to be revised slightly, but St Peter’s expects to be back to ‘normal’ by late-autumn.

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Simon Caraffi, the hospice’s chief executive, said: “We have been working to get the unit open by the end of October – that’s always been our target.

“But there’s some flexibility. We won’t have to close down the unit (in Keynsham).”

With a lot of the major construction work completed, attention is turning to the finer details.

Hospice staff are beginning to look at the best interior options for the unit, as they are keen to make the place as homely as possible for patients and loved ones.

The old bedrooms (left) will be made larger with better facilities, as illustrated right. Picture: St Peter's Hospice. The old bedrooms (left) will be made larger with better facilities, as illustrated right. Picture: St Peter's Hospice.

And the gardens will be landscaped once the builders are off site to make the most of the greenery surrounding the rooms.

Mr Caraffi said there is a lot of medical research which shows the benefits nature and horticulture have on people’s well-being and St Peter’s wants to maximise that in future.

Part of the gardens will also be wheelchair and dementia friendly to ensure everybody is catered for, regardless of their illness or disability.


Fundraising

To make the project possible, donations are required – and a lot of them.

The Room To Care Appeal has helped St Peter’s collect more than £1million to date, but approximately £350,000 is still required.

Mr Caraffi thanked Times readers for donating to the cause.

He said: “Fundraising is going very well.

“We started with a target of £1.53million on top of the money from our reserves.

“The figure is down to about £353,000 and we have until the end of October.”

Mr Caraffi said the hospice has been touched by people’s generosity, with one trust donating a six-figure sum.

However, he said the key donations now are coming from people who buy something in its charity shops, run a coffee morning or just fill out the donation form.

He said: “This will provide a 21st century unit.

“Everyone understands the value of what we are doing and have put their hands in their pocket.

“People are going to walk into the inpatients unit and say wow.

“I’m extremely grateful for the good people of North Somerset and their support.

“This project is once in a generation – it’s only going to happen every 25 years.”

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