Healthy Living: The final push as we help build the hospice

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The work is nearly complete, the patients are settled and comfortable... now all that’s needed is a final charity push to help St Luke’s Hospice raise the money for its new inpatient unit.

The drive to build the £5 million wing officially started one-and-a-half years ago - and now people receiving end-of-life care at the hospice, on Little Common Lane, Whirlow, are enjoying plush new surroundings.

The Star has pledged to raise £100,000 to pay for a single room in the 20-bed unit, but around £1 million is still needed in total.

Peter Hartland, chief executive of St Luke’s, said he was ‘unbelievably grateful’ to fundraisers for their efforts so far, but added: “We hope to be completed in March next year, but what we still have to do is raise the final element of the £5 million.

“We feel positive that we will get there.”

The Star was taken on a guided tour of the ward by deputy chief executive Judith Park, who said: “It’s much better - a light, bright unit. We’ve totally lost the hospital atmosphere.”

A completely new building has been constructed at one end of the hospice, while the old inpatient ward has been brought up to a higher standard, creating a seamless feel between the two sections. Each bedroom boasts a host of fresh features - from en-suite bathrooms to flatscreen TVs, armchair beds and individual heating controls.

“We’ve made the rooms feel personalised for the patients, so they don’t feel institutionalised,” said Judith.

“It’s just a much better environment for them.”

The deputy chief said she was particularly proud of the spa room, which has a large, hot-tub style bath as its centrepiece.

The spa’s ceiling can also be illuminated with coloured lights, reminiscent of a starry sky.

“We can’t take away what’s happening to a patient, but we can add quality to their life,” Judith continued.

“We want day patients to come and use the room, it needs to be used to the maximum.”

Ernest Abdey, aged 73, from Woodhouse, was one of the first patients to use the new building.

“There’s no contest between how it is now and how it was before, it’s 100 times better,” said Ernest, who stays at the hospice for pain management.

His wife Sylvia, 68, added: “The staff are brilliant, nothing is too much trouble. For wheelchair users, you cannot fault it.”

The attention to detail extends to the viewing room on the lower ground floor, where relatives can see loved ones after they have died.

Extra touches include a music player, tasteful green decor and an area where families can sit outside the room if they wish.

“It’s a nice, peaceful space which maintains patients’ and families’ privacy and dignity,” said Judith.

The decision to revamp St Luke’s came after the Care Quality Commission described facilities as ‘tired’, ‘aged’ and ‘failing to meet best practice guidance’.

“It’s about future-proofing,” said Judith.

“We recently had a good inspection which looked at the fabric of the building, so if we did well when it was part-building site, we’d anticipate to build on that.

“With dying, you don’t get a second chance. You have to make it as special as it can be.”

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‘It’s a case of every little helps’

St Luke’s looks after thousands of patients every year - but a large proportion of these do not visit the hospice, said the charity’s chief executive, Peter Hartland.

Many receive end-of-life care in their own homes, and once the work on the new inpatient unit is truly finished, this is an area in which bosses hope to offer more services.

“Our ambition is that now we’ve sorted out our work creating this fabulous new inpatient centre, we can expand our activity in a community setting, so more people suffering at home have the opportunity to be supported by St Luke’s together with other healthcare professionals.”

He said appeals such as The Star’s Great Pie and Peas Up, which is returning early next year and sees hundreds of people holding suppers in aid of the hospice, had helped make great strides with the appeal.

“We know not everybody is in a position to offer huge amounts of money, but really it’s a case of every little helps. We still need anybody who’s considering supporting us to come forward and have a chat.”