THE first patients will be cared for in the newly-built Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice before Christmas.
The project has taken more than 12 years to get to this stage but now everything is in place for children with life-limiting conditions to become in-patients in the impressive Brackenhall building.
Click below to see inside the new hospice.Related content
Staff are now liaising with the first families who will use the service.
Play co-ordinator Laura Harrison said: “Sometimes the greatest gift we can give a family at Christmas is simply the peace of mind knowing that we are here to help and with the opening of the hospice this is exactly what we can offer.”
Hospice chief executive Peter Branson added: “We are here because sadly, ordinary families face extraordinary challenges and they need and deserve our help.
“I’m delighted our hospice will be opening its doors this festive season and we owe a great debt of gratitude to everyone who has helped the charity get to this stage.”
It is known as Russell House after the youngster who inspired the hospice back in the late 1990s.
Russell Shepherd had undergone several operations and his mum, Linda Senior, could not understand why there wasn’t a hospice in the middle of West Yorkshire so decided to galvanise support for one.
Over the years support groups have been set up and thousands of people across Huddersfield have been involved in the massive fundraising needed to build the hospice – and it will now cost £2.5m a year to keep it running.
The hospice is a ‘home from home’ for the children and families with focus on doing everything possible to make children happier and more fulfilled while they are there – however long or short that may be.
The brand new state-of-the-art facilities include a hydrotherapy pool, a sensory room, a music room and bedrooms – each with their own en-suite bathroom.
Three of the bedrooms are for planned short breaks, one is for emergency short breaks and there is a snowflake suite for once the child has passed away for the family to use.
One of the key steps towards the opening of Russell House was the appointment of the new director of care, Vicki Finlay.
Vicki has extensive experience in children’s nursing but perhaps more importantly she understands first-hand the needs of the families. As a mum herself with three young boys – her youngest son has a heart condition although not life-limiting – she has experienced, in her words, “how it blows your world apart.”
The hospice has been providing care and support to children and their families in their homes since 2010.
The charity currently supports more than 50 children and their families, but with an estimated 700 children in the Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield area who could need its support the demand put on the hospice will continue to grow.
The support the charity gives children and families may sometimes last for a few weeks or months, but frequently will be over many years as they help children with long-term degenerative conditions.
As part of the charity’s care service they offer children’s play, family support, bereavement support, sibling support and complementary therapy to all their children and families
To make a difference and donate to the charity visit www.forgetmenot child.co.uk