Opened in 2000, Richard House is London’s first children’s hospice. Founder Anthea Hare was inspired by her experience as a paediatric nurse and recognises that when a child is diagnosed with a life-limiting or complex health condition, the whole family is affected. Richard House currently provides specialist medical care and support for over 300 children and their families.
To provide this support, their services include:
- Specialised residential clinical care.
- Art, music and play therapy to help with communication, development, pain management and the emotional needs for the child.
- Sessions to enable a child with sensory needs to communicate through sound.
- Respite care, to take pressure off the families and give the children opportunities to enjoy social interaction.
- Helping to facilitate ‘exit help’, which smooths the transition for children moving from hospital to home. Families spend two weeks at the hospice to help learn how to look after the child at home.
- Providing palliative care both in the hospice and at home.
- End of life care with pre and post bereavement support for all the family.
The staff at the hospice also work very hard to create a fun environment, so that the children really enjoy going there and don’t associate it with treatment. We really like the way they create happy memories by offering a range of activities and days out for all the family to enjoy, which they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Examples include:
- Holding family fun days at the hospice, such as ‘Hotel Transylvania’ and ‘Finding Nemo’ parties for children and their siblings.
- Organising trips to places like the cinema, theatre, zoo or the seaside, where family and siblings are also invited.
- Messy Play with paints, glue, pipe cleaners and coloured tissue to help a child explore and create.
- Family Entertainers such as magicians come in and create memorable days for the family.
We have heard several examples of the great work carried out at Richard House and we feel ‘Angela’ is a great example:
Angela is seven years old and has been coming to Richard House since she was a baby. She has a complex heart condition called Cardiomyopathy, where the muscles in her heart become enlarged, and has had many operations. Lately she has had to cut down a lot of activities as her heart can’t take much exertion and even a 20 minute walk is enough for her to get tired and sleep for over 14 hours.
Mum Priscilla says:
She is a vibrant little girl, full of energy and mature beyond her age. She loves gymnastics and does cartwheels everywhere I mean everywhere she can. Angela does pretty much everything at Richard House from swimming, cinema, ice skating and is often found chilling and playing games with the staff, or giving them a new hairstyle!
Not only do they provide respite care but the staff are amazing. They listen especially when I’m stressed. I’m able to even go away and not worry about Angela or her medication.
The word ‘hospice’ is associated with sadness and death. But to us it’s a magical place for the kids where they have fun and are well taken care of. As a parent when I leave Angela there my mind is a peace and I can get some rest. Richard House means the absolute world to Angela and me.
Fundraising and volunteering
Although Richard House receives £650,000 of statutory funding every year, they require £3.5M per annum just to stay open.
There is a huge amount of enthusiasm within Holden and Partners to help fundraise for Richard House. We have events planned throughout the year and have entered two teams in the London Triathlon in July, for which Richard House will be the recipient of sponsorship efforts.
Staff are also looking forward to volunteering both in the grounds and inside the hospice, gardening in the beautiful woodland, helping prepare for Family Activity Days including arts and crafts for activity sessions, event preparation and much, much more.
To find out more about Richard House, visit this link richardhouse.org.uk