Feature: Construction work will transform Beckton children’s hospice

Richard House CEO Peter Ellis at the new building site in the hospice.

Richard House CEO Peter Ellis at the new building site in the hospice. - Credit: Archant

Nestled at the end of a quiet residential street, within spitting distance of the DLR line, Richard House Children’s Hospice has been providing vital services to children and young people with life threatening and life limiting conditions since 2000.

Richard House CEO Peter Ellis at the new building site in the hospice.

Richard House CEO Peter Ellis at the new building site in the hospice. - Credit: Archant

Earlier this year the hospice moved its care team to St Josephs Hospice in Hackney to allow building work to begin at its Beckton base.

The construction work, which will reduce the number of beds from eight to four, began in August and is due to finish early next year.

Despite the reduction in the number of beds, the development goes hand in hand with the Chief Executive’s aim of taking the hospice into the community and making its business, “everyone’s business.”

Peter Ellis, Chief Executive of the Beckton hospice, said: “Our growing belief and understanding is that the work we are involved in at Richard House is everyone’s business.

“We are dealing with death, dying, loss and grief but there is also life and living. If you have a child or a young person that is unlikely to survive to adult hood or is at risk of dying, it means that life for them becomes more focused.”

Meeting the needs of such families means that the hospice, as a small organisation, recognises the need to work in partnership with the community at large.

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As he looks at the new build going on around him Peter is conscious of how the hospice can continue to support families and begin working with the wider community to tap into its hidden strengths, so that they too can get involved in supporting such families.

He is also working with his team to make sure they make the best use of the £3 million that the hospice gets every year, two thirds of which is from voluntary donations, and to use it in a way that has the most impact by empowering other people.

“We know that families need respite care but only about 10 per cent of their time is spent having direct residential care at Richard house. What happens to the other 90 per cent, who is supporting that? That’s why we are currently working towards a community outreach model which will aim to work in partnership with others.”

Although the number of beds at the hospice will go down to four, the bedrooms housing them will be twice the size and will be lighter and brighter. The corridor that connects them will be wider to allow easier movement for children and young people with disabilities.

Peter said: “The drive behind making the changes was that the needs and requirements of children have changed over the years so that the building wasn’t the best.

It was built as a semi-circle and the corridor twisted and turned and which caused confusion for new families.

“The bedrooms are bigger, twice the size; the bathrooms are on the outside wall and twice as big and the corridor is wider. There will be more light and it will be quite transformed.”

In addition to the physical changes, the hospice has a family services support manager while another member of staff has been jointly appointed with St Josephs Hospice to lead transition services for young people as they move from children’s hospices to adult services.

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