Shooting star children’s hospices provides inspiring levels of care for children with life-limiting conditions and their families. The leus family foundation recently visited the charity’s guildford hospice, christopher’s, to see the facilities.
Christopher’s, one of two hospices run by Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, is situated in Artington, near Guildford. The hospice is known for providing exemplary care for children with life-limiting conditions and supporting the whole family.
As the only children’s hospice in Surrey, Shooting Star Children’s Hospices cares for new-borns to 21-year-olds. The young people and their families welcomed at Christopher’s benefit from the compassion and professionalism that the CQC Outstanding rated hospice is known for. It begins with the specialist care team but extends into every element of the care and environment provided at Christopher’s.
The thought with which the hospice has been designed and equipped is striking. The philosophy behind it is to enable children to play and participate in as many activities as possible without having to leave the hospice. The corridors are wide enough to fit two wheelchairs through at the same time so those with access needs are able to move around the hospice together. Also on the walls are images of the children and their families as well as the children’s artwork, which gives Christopher’s a friendly feel and the children enjoy finding their image when walking around. Children staying have access to a hydrotherapy pool, with lights and other sensory equipment, where they can experience the benefits hydrotherapy can bring, whilst also allowing them to have fun and enjoy the water with siblings and family.
The hospice garden allows opportunities to play, for example on a specially designed trampoline built into the ground meaning it’s accessible to wheelchair users. There is an area where plants have been donated and repurposed from an award-winning garden from the Chelsea Flower Show and seating allows places to meet, talk and rest for families. A smaller, enclosed internal sensory garden allows children to roam and play freely. Inside, a kitchen, soft play room, arts and crafts area, and cinema room all add to the comfort and stimulation that Christopher’s aims to provide to children and their families. Enriching experiences, such as a visit from Santa or rabbits for petting, are arranged for the children and their siblings to enjoy. When possible, visits to venues such as Chessington World of Adventures are also arranged.
The bedrooms are designed and fully equipped to cater to the needs of the child using the room, including hoists where needed to assist the child. Each room has its own sink, wardrobe space and CCTV installed to monitor the children throughout the night, whilst ensuring they are inviting and comfortable, with colourful bedding and soft furnishings. Their position, with patio style doors backing onto the hospice garden, allows a feeling of being close to nature. The bathrooms on site have baths with jets, hoist equipment to cater for all needs of children, plus paintings and images on the ceiling. Christopher’s also has six bedrooms upstairs to allow families to stay when needed.
There are two rooms, the Willow Suites, which are peaceful bereavement suites. Hospitals currently allow families to stay with a child or baby who has passed away for two hours, however, at the hospice families can stay with their child for up to one week, giving them the chance to say goodbye. These rooms offer self-contained living, with an outlook to the memory garden, where the families can have a space to remember their children with an engraved leaf with their child’s name, hung on the memory tree’s. The suites are fully air conditioned with a cold mattress to help preserve the child’s body. Bereaved families are offered a wide range of support for three years and three months post bereavement, including counselling, therapies, family memory days, social groups, support visits and resources.
The Leus Family Foundation has recently become a supporter of Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, donating Christmas presents and committing to further support in 2023. Leus Family Foundation founder Dmitry Leus said: “The level of care provided not only to ill children but also to their families is inspiring, in terms of the compassion, professionalism and quality of life that Shooting Star Children’s Hospices strives to deliver. Our Foundation is proud to support them, and I urge others to do the same. When life has been limited, it is all of our responsibility to support those who bring comfort and happy moments at terribly difficult times.”
Lisa Dennis, Director of Care at Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, welcomed the support from the Leus Family Foundation, saying: “Thank you so much for the wonderful gifts the Leus Family Foundation donated this Christmas. The children were absolutely delighted, especially with the amazing sensory equipment. Thank you from everyone at Shooting Star Children’s Hospices for the Foundation’s continued support.”
If you would like to support the work of Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, consider donating via their website. Families wishing to learn more about the services provided by Shooting Star Children’s Hospices can read this information in the How We Help section of their website.