Julia’s House Devizes, the first children’s hospice in Wiltshire was officially opened by the charity’s Patron Martin Clunes on Saturday.
More than 100 invited guests attended the ceremony to celebrate the end of the building work with a reception in the garden followed by tours of the new £2 million pound hospice.
The ribbon cut was performed by Joseph Hartley, 5 and Summer Paddock, 7 - with a little help from Martin Clunes. Both children currently receive care from the Julia’s House Wiltshire community team.
The actor, who is a long-standing supporter of Julia’s House said: “I’m very excited and privileged because I know an awful lot of hard work has gone into this. I’m really pleased to be opening the hospice because I’ve heard the talk, I’ve seen the plans and now I’ve seen the new Julia’s House, I’m bowled over by it.”
Work to convert the former council offices into a beautiful new children’s hospice took a year. It has a large central activity room, sensory and therapy rooms and three bedrooms for occasional weekend and overnight stays. The garden has a wheelchair-friendly trampoline and a nest swing.
The hospice incorporates many high-tech features including interactive projection systems that allow play via vision, sound and movement, enabling children to play and have fun regardless of their physical limitations.
Joseph’s mum, Liz said: “Joseph has been so excited. It is fantastic to see him so happy. It is so good to have a place where he can come and feel safe and we can feel relaxed.”
The hospice will now undergo a formal inspection and go through a 10-week long commissioning process to gain Care Quality Commission approval before welcoming the first families in July.
Julia’s House, which already has a hospice in Dorset, has been supporting Wiltshire families with life-limited children for three years via its home-based community care.
The new hospice will give families the chance to choose where they receive their respite sessions as well as offering access to top class facilities, specialist end of life care and social opportunities.
The public are invited to come and see the new hospice for themselves at an open day on Thursday, 15th June.
Nearly 3 years ago, we launched a small home-based respite care service to families of life-limited children living in south Wiltshire. Despite living just a few miles over the Dorset border, where we have provided our award-winning care for more than a decade, these families had no access to this sort of frequent support. Now we support many families across the whole county.
We decided that Wiltshire needed a hospice, a somewhere children could come and play in an environement tailored specifically for them, and a hub for our community nurses to work from.
The theme for the building and garden is Wiltshire’s Neolithic heritage, with fun interpretations of white horses, stone monuments and – in a creative extension of the theme – cave drawings interpreted by local children’s artist Hannah Kate Sackett.
Hi-tech features include a cinema within the main activity room, interactive projection systems that allow play via vision and sound and movement-activated sound boxes in the garden, which will trigger birdsong and other relaxing nature sounds.
The work has been carried out by Wates Construction, whose surveyor, Rebecca Thursby, has a three-year-old daughter, Sophia, who receives care from the Julia’s House Wiltshire community nursing team.
Rebecca, who is responsible for the financial management of the build, commented: “This wasn't an ordinary contract for me, it wasn't just about doing a good job for a client, this felt like a very personal project because I know how much it means, not only to my family but to families all over Wiltshire.
“I have even had some input in the design from my perspective as a parent. I am so pleased to be part of it all.”