We are so grateful to The Wolfson Foundation for their very generous award. We originally applied to seek funding to allow us to make substantial interior alterations to our family flat, Tree Tops. The flat was very dated and the space was poorly apportioned. Our plan was to split the flat into two units to allow our families a greater degree of privacy during very difficult times.
The Wolfson Foundation very kindly granted us a substantial award and have allowed us the opportunity to use the funds in the way we felt best given the extraordinary fundraising and cash flow challenges facing the sector currently. This means that whilst we still intend to develop Tree Tops flat, we can reapportion this money to other projects which have become more pressing as we adapt our service for terminally ill children and their families due to the coronavirus pandemic.
We have a number of priority areas at the moment which with investment, will allow us to provide an enhanced level of care as we learn to live with the virus and keep our hospice site virus free.
These include expanding our 24/7 clinical helpline staffed by nurses and doctors. Investing in technology and replacing a number of sensory tools which are out of date and limited. Updating these will allow children to make the most of the limited time they may have and enjoy a variety of experiences. Introducing elements into our service which enable us to increase patient safety, for example, electronic patient record will improve communication with our NHS partner organisations and further training will allow our teams to identify “hidden” children and safeguarding issues in vulnerable families.
Developing our work away from our hospice building and working within the local community is important too as families are reluctant to travel and increase the risk to already vulnerable children. This work includes developing more outreach visits, short respite breaks for families at home, and facilitating the links between remote families and services available to them utilising a dedicated Liaison Nurse Role. Investing further in our volunteer development capabilities and workforce is a pressing need as we aim to support more families in different ways in their own homes, this support can be varied from mowing the lawn, reading to and playing with other children in the family, to shopping.
We are working extra hard to stay in touch with families including those receiving current care and bereaved families. We are also ensuring that families have access to information and are still seeking medical advice as needed. Our teams are also very aware that the stress of isolation could increase the incidence of domestic abuse within households and that children could be at risk of abuse or neglect.
Making adjustments to our buildings and outdoor space will enable us to practice social and physical distancing without reducing the number of families who can stay with us and without restricting the number of visitors a family can have. This is especially important for families from ethnic minority communities as extended family visits and large gatherings immediately after a child dies is part of established practices and traditions for a number of faiths.
Find out more about The Wolfson Foundation at www.wolfson.org.uk.