All About Richard House Hospice – Part One

At the start of this month, Kellie Hill of Big Fashionista picked Richard House Hospice as our first charity of the month. We got in touch with Richard House to find out more about the work that they do. They gave us so much wonderful information that I am going to split it into two parts, rather than edit it down. Please take a moment to read about this wonderful charity. Next week, we’ll be talking about how you can support them.

What is your role at Richard House Children’s Hospice?

Niall Couper, Director of Communications at Richard House.

What work does Richard House do and why is it so important?

Richard House, in Beckton, East London, offers young people with serious complex medical conditions not only a window of opportunity but also a door that is opened in welcome, walls in which to feel safe and well-cared for, and a whole extra family of support.

Offering specialist respite care to boys and girls with a wide range of life-limiting and life-threatening conditions, Richard House allows its young visitors to have a break away from home, to enjoy a change of scene and be dynamic, and to give their families a moment to relax as well. Through a committed team of trustees, staff and volunteers, the love that exudes from Richard House makes it far more than bricks, mortar and medicine. It is a home away from home.

Richard House’s core purpose is to stand beside families, to accompany them and create positive memories along their journey.

The word hospice, for many, still equates with imminent death. We cannot emphasise enough that Richard House is a place where life-limited and life-threatened children can LIVE to their full potential for as long as their lives last.

The demands on families with such children   – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual – are extreme. Exuding love, compassion and nursing expertise, the care Richard House offers such families is priceless.

Richard House was the first children’s hospice in London. It began providing services in 2000 and we usually have around 200 children registered with us.

Peter Ellis, Chief Executive at Richard House, said:  “The essence of Richard House for me is to enable children and their families to engage fully with life as they face death. A mother whose son died recently said that she had not wanted to come to Richard House because of the perceived stigma attached to coming to a hospice. She felt anxious when she brought her son, and yet once she came through the doors, she was surprised at the positive atmosphere and quickly felt reassured and part of the family.”

Any child and young person aged up to 19 years of age has access to:

Short Breaks – all families will be eligible to an assessed allocation of pre bookable overnight stays.

Day care – day care is currently offered on an ad hoc basis as and when residential beds have not been allocated, there is no stipulated allocation for day care.

Home based support – through our service level agreement with The Rainbow Trust.

Emergency crisis stays – these will take priority over booked residential short breaks and will usually be given to families as additional nights.

Bonus nights – these are available during quieter periods and will be offered to families on a rotational basis as extra nights.

Step down care – from hospital prior to discharge home. In an intermediate step between hospital and home, Richard House carers provide the training a family needs to be able to take their child home safely and help establish a home care programme.

Family support – all families have access to a full calendar of social events where they can meet other families in similar situations. They have access to individual counselling sessions as required either from our family support services manager or through therapy students on placement. Siblings are eligible to access the siblings support group or be allocated a befriender for more individualised one on one support.

Post Bereavement Support – access to a trained bereavement counsellor

Health Advocacy service - where English is not a families’ first language Health

Advocates will be available through our service level agreement.

Bereavement Suite - access to the use of a bereavement suite for children and families who have used Richard House and also for those who have died at home.

Spiritual care - access to a faith leader of choice is through the Newham Hospital Chaplaincy team and we hold a service level agreement with Newham Healthcare Trust for this service.

Multi-Sensory Room - this provides stimulation and entertainment in a relaxed atmosphere

Messy play area

Computer room

Parents’ Accommodation - we have two self contained family flats where families can come and stay.

Richard House is developing its transition services. This is the purposeful, planned movement of adolescents and young adults with chronic physical and medical conditions from a child-centred to an adult-orientated health care system and life.


Come back next week for the second instalment from Niall!

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