Ribbon cut on refurbished inpatient unit at St John’s Hospice
PUBLISHED: 17:16 23 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:57 08 November 2020
Neil Kenyon/St John's Hospice
A hospice’s new patient facility has been hailed a “triumph over adversity” by staff, patients, and relatives.
Despite the pandemic, St John’s Hospice’s newly-refurbished inpatient unit (IPU) has been completed and is now ready to provide respite and palliative care for patients with life-limiting illness.
Relatives of James Holyfield MBE, a former English teacher who was a patient and passed away a year ago this month, cut the ribbon on the facility in his memory.
“James was very aesthetically-driven. He loved good architecture and furniture and we know he would have loved the new inpatient unit and the way it has been put together,” said Siobhan Simpson, James’s niece who attended the opening ceremony with her husband, Scott, and James’s husband John Kenny.
“This is the first time we have been back to the hospice since James died and, on the way here, we all said we thought it would be a sad occasion, but it has been a really positive experience and we know James would have loved this and being the centre of attention.”
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Refurbishment work started in March, days before the national lockdown and before the full fundraising budget had been met. But some of the facilities had not been upgraded since the hospice opened in 1984 and it has since served the patients of eight London boroughs.
The design includes Covid safety measures, with space for social distancing and wash stations in all rooms.
The children’s room has been moved and redesigned and a new multi-purpose communal area enables patients and families to enjoy a meal or watch a movie together and overlooks the hospice’s Chelsea Flower Show award-winning garden.
Caroline Fox, the hospice’s chief executive officer, said: “This has been a triumph over adversity. Patients and their families can now come here, feel relaxed and safe in a welcoming environment. Our main focus from now is to ensure we attract the funds so we can continue to deliver free essential palliative care which is desperately needed in our communities.”
The pandemic has meant a predicted £1.3m deficit by the end of the year for the hospice, and a hole in the budget for the IPU project. It has launched an emergency appeal and donations can be made at www.stjohnshospice.org.uk or by calling 020 7806 4040 and asking for the fundraising team.
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