Feature: New development at St Luke's Hospice will make it 'one of the best health care centres in the world'

St Luke's chief executive Peter Hartland in front of Clifford House
St Luke's chief executive Peter Hartland in front of Clifford House
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An exciting new facility coming to a Sheffield hospice could make it ‘the best health care centre in the world’ according to bosses.

St Luke’s Hospice in Whirlow are putting together the final touches to their new facility in Clifford House, which aims to help patients in early diagnosis. The picturesque Victorian structure, acquired in 2016, will house up to 30 users for relaxation, activities and support just yards from it’s base on Little Common Lane.

Clifford House

Clifford House

Chief executive Peter Hartland spoke exclusively to The Star about the plans.

He said: “What we want to do is translate the outstanding work we do in St Luke’s and bring that to Clifford House and making the hospice as a whole one of the best health care centre’s in the country, if not the world.”

The scene is 2008. Terminally ill patients are queuing up to go to the toilet and have to book time slots for a bath.

Walls are in need of a lick of paint and the facilities look tired.

It’s safe to say St Luke’s was not in a good way. Bleak finances and crumbling facilities dampened what amazing work staff did in tough circumstances.

Fast forward nine years and you could hardly believe the stories of its difficult past.

The in-patient wing rebuilt to a modern standard has brought a calm atmosphere with non of the clinical edge. Throw in an ‘Outstanding’ rating from Government inspectorate the Care

Quality Commission, things are looking up.

And now after getting back on a firm footing, the hospice is set to turn another corner with the acquisition of Clifford House - located from a short walk through a newly constructed path.

Speaking to The Star in his office, top boss Peter Hartland explains what Clifford House aims to offer.

“So what happens to them throughout that journey from diagnosis and confirmation they’ve got a terminal condition right through to the point where we start to see them now? The answer is, it’s very patchy. If you’re a cancer patient, you will get support from other parts of the system around the city.

“If you’re unfortunate enough to have a condition that doesn’t have a big centre in Sheffield, you’ll probably get very little support and you and your family may be left at home contemplating this thing that’s been dropped on you without the support.

“Clifford House has been acquired to enable us to help people earlier in their terminal illness an by offering them a range of activities either one-to-one or group activities around relaxation, practical advice and fun because we feel if we can help people in the early phases of their illness, when they get to the difficult stage, they’ll be better prepared for it, able to cope better with it and if we get this right, we may defer or delay the onset of some of the complexities that arise.”

He added: “We want to make a similar impact at Clifford House so when people have got real problems come and visit us, they feel welcomed and want to return.

“We aim for this to become part and parcel of helping them cope with what is probably the worst news that any family can get.”

The Victorian Mansion - located 30 seconds away on foot - back onto to the current site on Little Common Lane.

A bit of hedgework and a new path has opened up the structure which looks more like it should be hosting posh garden parties and weddings than treating people with a terminal illness.

But it’s in this idyllic environment that staff at St Luke’s believe they can expand the fantastic work they already do.

The story behind the acquisition is an unusual one. Clifford House, formerly owned by Gripple boss Hugh Facey, was keen to sell the building to St Luke’s and constructed an impressive state-of-the-art home on grounds next door.

The Victoria structure, was once owned by Charles Clifford. Many Sheffielder will know him for the dental hospital but he was once the chairman of the Morning Telegraph and Star.

St Luke’s staff have made alterations and currently are polishing off the final touches for it’s operational start on September 12.

“Clifford House in maybe 10 years and the work that goes on there will be the main face of St Luke’s,” said Mr Hartland.

“For people who are sadly diagnosed with terminal illness, they’ll know if they approach Clifford House they are going to get care, support and advice which will get them through such a difficult time in their lives and make the most of the weeks, months or years they still have to live.”

St Luke’s are also offering space to other Sheffield charities with the ‘same ethos’ as them along with hiring out space for conferences and meetings to raise extra cash for services.

The exciting new chapter is a complete contrast to what the hospice was once which possibly faced the unimaginable prospect of closing its doors.

He added: “Eight years ago, if you look at the front pages of The Star, this place could well have shut because our funding was so desperate.

“We had to lose staff and completely overhaul the structure, lose volunteers, change services and so on.

“It was incredibly tough. You feel responsible for what is a Sheffield institution which in what it does, is endlessly worthy.

“I remember a time when patients had to queue up for the toilet in the corridor, you had mold in the bathrooms and ceilings falling down you had all sorts of stuff going on and it’s a complete contrast.

“Staff still carried out the amazing and incredibly humbling work they did in more challenging environment.

This is as difficult a job as many out there and when staff who work here literally work in life and death.

“It’s a job in the sense it pays the bills but you feel you’re really making a difference to the people of Sheffield who need us.

It’s not like serving up a meal in a restaurant, we have one chance to get this right.

“We want to maintain St Luke’s for the next generations and make it the best it can be and I’d like to thank all the amazing staff and the brilliant fundraisers and supporters.”