Originally built with 9 inpatient beds, significant developments have occurred on the 1.7 acre site in Donnington over the years, including the launch of the Community services in 1990, a large extension in 1999 to accommodate the Day Hospice services and the Education Centre, establishment of a multi-faith chapel in 2003 and a major refurbishment of the Inpatient Unit in 2008 to arrive at the current provision of 14 patient rooms including two family rooms.
Of course, these developments have allowed the Hospice teams to continue to deliver high quality specialist palliative and end of life care and support to patients both at the Hospice and in the community – in people’s own homes, in residential and care home settings and in hospital. However, the significant growth in services, numbers of patients supported, and numbers of people employed or who volunteer have also presented increasing concerns about the limitations of space on the existing site and the availability of parking.
With this in mind, the Board of Trustees of St Wilfrid’s Hospice has identified the need to establish a new Hospice building in order to ensure that the changing and growing needs of the local community can be met both now and in the future.
As Chair of Trustees, Angela Wormald, says, “St Wilfrid’s Hospice prides itself on the excellence of its services and a new building with greater space and lower running costs will enable us to continue to do this for more patients for many more years to come. The present site has been our home for over 27 years but the building is now too small and redeveloping the site is not a cost-effective option for the long term.
We see this as a superb opportunity to take the vision of our founders forward. We hope to gain the support of our local community to help us to achieve our plans for the future.”
It has been of the utmost importance to the Board of Trustees to consider site options in the Chichester area that are both fit for purpose and affordable. The availability of suitable sites that would meet all the identified requirements of a new Hospice building with landscaped gardens and adequate parking at a reasonable cost has been extremely limited. However, land made available in the Bosham area will provide enough space to enable the Hospice team to achieve its purpose as demand for its services in the community grows.
The proposed new development has the potential to increase the care of patients on the ward by 50% - increasing the number of patient rooms initially from 14 to 18 but with the potential to increase to 21, all rooms being larger than those on the current site and offering full en-suite facilities for all patients.
In addition, there is a need to update other patient and family facilities so that Community Care, Palliative Day Services, Physiotherapy & Occupational Therapy and Bereavement services can function in the best ways to meet the forecast future needs.
“Whilst it is difficult to predict the longer term models of specialist palliative care delivery that will meet the changing demographics across Coastal West Sussex, it is anticipated that continuing growth of care in our community will require a new Hospice building to accommodate the expansion of the Community Services team as more people across Chichester, Bognor and the surrounding areas are cared for and die at home if that is their wish. The desired move is very much for the benefit of all the people we serve across our catchment area and that is why is it so important to us that the Council and the wider community will look favourably on the work undertaken by us as a local charity,” states Alison Moorey, Chief Executive.
Of course, all Hospice plans are still very much subject to planning consent from Chichester District Council and the Board of Trustees is very keen to acknowledge that approval of the new development is not a foregone conclusion. The Board has been working closely with a local team of architects to ensure that all site design drawings remain sympathetic to the locality whilst also providing options for future development of specialist services.
Much work remains to be done and although the estimated cost of the new build has yet to be confirmed it is anticipated that it will be in the region of £12m. The sale of the current Hospice land will help to meet some of this cost. The Board of Trustees will seek to ensure that the maximum amount can be achieved by sale of the current site at an appropriate time. The Hospice has been able to purchase the land for the new build from existing funds and the disposal of the current site will happen at a later stage. There is, of course, a need to recognise everything that has been achieved on the existing site since the Hospice first opened its doors and the Hospice teams will ensure that support and consideration of the past is taken at every step in the process. The Hospice team also recognises that the support of the public will be vital if the new building is to become a reality and would want to consider any public concerns so that they can be understood and addressed, accordingly.
The Board has agreed to designate a proportion of Hospice financial reserves as an investment in the new St Wilfrid’s Hospice and to make certain that strategic clinical priorities are realisable in both the medium and long term. It is hoped that the remainder of the required funds will be sought from voluntary income and grants. St Wilfrid’s will also look to the generosity of the local community once planning has been approved - as its founder members did over 30 years ago when they had the original vision for a local hospice.
An indicative time scale suggests that if a positive planning decision was to be granted by the District Council in September 2015, the new Hospice building could open in the autumn of 2017. A wonderful way of celebrating our 30th Anniversary year.
As founder member and Vice President, Dr Sandra Sedgwick, commented, “I am immensely proud of everything that St Wilfrid’s Hospice represents and I continue to admire the dedication of all its staff, volunteers and supporters. I have every faith that the Hospice team – backed by the community that it serves – will provide a ‘next generation’ Hospice that will ensure that the excellence of care continues for another 27 years and beyond.”
For anyone wishing to comment on the plans of the Hospice or to find out how they can help, please contact Alison Moorey or Avril Robinson, Head of Fundraising and Communications on 01243 755197 or email firstname.lastname@example.org