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How £6.5m St Peter’s Hospice rebuild is progressing

PUBLISHED: 07:02 02 December 2017 | UPDATED: 17:28 05 December 2017

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.

If it was not for the large crane being visible over the top of the hospice building, you would have no idea that the old inpatients’ unit (IPU) is now mainly rubble.

Building work is progressing at St Peter's Hospice. Building work is progressing at St Peter's Hospice.

It is eight weeks since the hospice launched its Room To Care Appeal – a £1.5million fundraising campaign to build a more practical IPU to best suit the needs of terminally ill patients and their families, while providing the best possible environment for the finest care.

Inpatients were transferred to Keynsham in October and for a year the hospice will be split across different sites while the construction work is carried out.

The project is a huge one, not just in financial terms. It is a race against time to ensure St Peter’s is able to move back from its temporary St Monica’s Trust home to Bristol next autumn, ahead of the first patients from the city, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire arriving.

Project manager Gareth Hann is the man whose job it is to make sure that is possible and he is not scared to admit it is a challenge.

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He said: “It is a very tight project – probably one of the tightest I have worked to.

“I’m confident of achieving it as long as we don’t come up against any nasties.”

‘Nasties’ as Gareth calls them are normally par for the course with big construction projects. Tearing down a 20-year-old IPU and building a larger one in its place is the sort of project where the unexpected can happen.

Gareth admits there are several key milestones which need to be hit but hopes the luck of the gods is with them by providing a dry winter to ensure the work can continue throughout December and January without disruption.

Builders began on site at the end of September and some of the groundwork was started before the IPU was transferred to Keynsham.

And Gareth said it was important for him personally to see the great care provided at St Peter’s first hand.

He said: “I’ve worked on hospital projects before and I was expecting the same type of environment but it soon became apparent it’s a lot more sensitive than an A&E or a ward – a lot of people come here in their final days.”

That feeling inspires many of the changes. The 15 new IPU rooms will all be single-person occupancy and include an en-suite plus a sofa bed for loved ones to sleep on overnight.

But, while that dream becomes a reality, the day hospice remains on site. It does mean some logistical difficulties for staff but Mr Hann said extra care has been taken to ensure the disruption does not affect patients.

He said: “The last thing we want to do is upset patients and make it unbearable for them.

“The important thing is that it doesn’t affect people’s wellbeing and we don’t want to put pressure on the hospice.”

Later on in the building project the day hospice’s services will be suspended for a short time, while a walkway is built to connect it to the new IPU and community facilities. This work is likely to take place early in 2018.

All being well, the builders will hand the site back to the hospice next September for it to be fitted out, ahead of it opening a month later.

MORE: Clapton-in-Gordano widow urges public to help St Peter’s Hospice.

The value of the work being carried out has not been lost on Gareth or his team.

Inspiring stories of St Peter’s work published in the Times adorn the site office walls and a collection tin sits in the main team meeting room for anyone who happens to swear or be unfortunate enough to have their phone go off.

Gareth said: “There’s a sentimental value to the scheme – it’s not just for patients, its for the families as well.

“It’s important they (workers) understand they are part of a team whether they are here for six months, or six days.”

MORE: Terminally ill Nailsea man reveals support of St Peter’s Hospice.

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