Richard House Children’s Hospice recently celebrated their 20th Anniversary. No-one could have predicted what a year it would be, or the impact it would have on the community they look after. This has been an unprecedented time for Richard House. They remain committed to caring for life-limited children and their families, as they have done for 20 years.
Their families are coping in extraordinary circumstances, with most parents caring for their life-limited child 24/7. Feelings of loneliness and anxiety – which many struggled with before Covid-19 – are being heightened by the isolation and stress of shielding a child who is critically vulnerable to contracting Covid-19.
Sarah Crowley, Palliative Care Nurse, talks about some of the ways she and her team are responding to the pandemic. “We are all working together to make a safe and happy environment, making sure we are here for each other, with small gestures such as making a cuppa, lending an ear to someone’s worries or by offering lifts to staff who rely on public transport. I know everyone is affected by the fear and anxiety caused by COVID-19. But we know it is vital to continue coming into Richard House because of the support we provide to the most vulnerable families in our communities.”
Lockdown and social distancing changed the way they have deliver all of the services at Richard House, from essential medical care, to the emotional support offered to loved ones. They are following government guidelines at every stage, and their commitment to protecting our vulnerable beneficiaries and staff has necessitated strict COVID measures. With many of their families choosing to receive our Hospice-at-Home service, rather than residential stays, the five bedrooms have become increasingly available and back in March they realised they had the opportunity to play a bigger role in the community through this crisis.
They have been taking in children from local hospitals, to minimise the risk of them contracting Covid and to support the NHS to cope with the additional strain of patients. Most of these young patients are currently undergoing long-term treatment and are as vulnerable as the life-limited children on their existing caseload.
Thanks to investment in more robust systems and technology, they are now able to connect with children and families virtually, offering therapy and counselling sessions, online parent support groups and music therapy for children. Shifting to online ways of working has been vital in ensuring they can reach their beneficiaries, alleviating feelings of isolation, as well as connecting them with one another through lockdown.
Chris Williams – Head of Community & Events told us “The grant from London Masons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, from across England and Wales.”
London Masons Charity Steward Tony Shields commented: “We are very happy to assist Richard House Children’s Hospice with this grant in support of life-limited children and their families. Freemasons have donated £300,000, which has been awarded in core funding grants to hospices across England and Wales and comes at a much-needed time, when the usual fund-raising opportunities have been severely curtailed by the pandemic.
This grant follows on from a recent £2.5 Million to fund two ultra-high aerial platforms, six rapid response vehicles and four bariatric stretchers to London Fire Brigade and earlier generous donations of £3 million to Bart’s hospital for the purchase of a Cyberknife and £2 million donation towards the second London Air Ambulance, all of which contribute to saving lives right across this great capital city.”