Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice to reopen for respite care in run up to Christmas

A Yorkshire children’s hospice is about to start providing respite care again after suspending clinical care six months ago because of staff shortages.

Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, on Cramfit Road, North Anston, temporarily closed clinical services on May 31.

The hospice cares for youngsters up to the age of 25 living with life-limiting illnesses and their families in South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and North Lincolnshire.

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The hospice says it will welcome back children and young people needing respite care from Monday, December 19 following a “determined and focused” recruitment drive.

Staff and volunteers at Bluebell Wood Children's HospiceStaff and volunteers at Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice
Staff and volunteers at Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice

Initially they will offer families two-night overnight stays at the hospice, or community short breaks at home.

They hope to expand the service as soon as possible.

David Wilkin, chairman of trustees, said: “We are over the moon to be able to offer clinical respite care again.

"It is one of the most important and valued ways in which we can support families who have children and young adults with life-threatening and life-shortening illnesses. Respite care can literally be a lifeline to families experiencing continual worry, fear and stress.

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"The decision to suspend it was made with great sadness and after every effort had been made to prevent it.

“Our priorities will always be a high level of care and safe services with the right level of expertise and the correct staff framework to comply with regulations.

"We had to be pragmatic and put the safety of children and young people first.  We are confident we now have the right team in place to give the best possible respite care and support.”

Meanwhile the hospice has had a makeover with autism-friendly muted colour schemes in main lounge, sensory room, bedrooms and bathrooms.

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New, app-controlled lighting, which runs from soft and soothing to energising disco, has also been installed to modernise the hospice.

While no one has stayed overnight in the eight-bed unit for six months, non-clinical services like sibling support and bereavement counselling have continued.

The hospice welcomed families in for craft and sensory activity days throughout the clinical care suspension, and during the summer 147 people attended an activity day.

The hospice is continuing to look for staff.

Emma Doughty, Strategic Lead for Care, said there was a national shortage of experts in paediatric palliative care.

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She said: “We still have a small number of vacancies and are looking for more nurses and support workers to join us and enable us to expand our services.

"People working in roles such as teaching assistants and adult social care have strong transferable skills which would be so valuable to us.

“I can’t think of a more rewarding place to work. While there are times of sadness, many days are filled with love and laughter.”