Securing St Wilfrid's for the future

St Wilfrid’s Hospice has served our local community for nearly 30 years – now we need to safeguard it for the next 30 years and beyond.

The Hospice opened its doors in 1987. We were the first and continue to be the only Hospice in this area treating adults with life-shortening diseases. Built entirely with funds raised by the local community, it has cared for over 14,000 patients and their families since then.

All our services are free of charge and the demand for our work grows every year. When we opened in 1987 we cared for 188 patients. Last year this had risen to over 850 and research shows this is going to increase by at least 17% in the next five years.

Since 1987 the services we offer to our local community have expanded beyond recognition. These include our Hospice at Home service, a Practice Educator providing support to residential, nursing and care home staff who are providing end of life care, an education programme offering training in end of life care and supportive therapies. Our services have also developed to support carers and families and include access to complementary therapies and bereavement support.

However, the quality and levels of care we offer are now under threat. The current building is no longer fit-for-purpose and is in urgent need of upgrades. Chair of Trustees, Angela Wormald, said, “The growing demand for our services is constrained by the limitations of an ageing building in urgent need of modernisation. At any one time our staff may be caring for up to 230 patients as well as providing support to their family and friends. This puts a huge pressure on the limited facilities we are working with on our current site and consequently the quality and levels of care we are striving to offer are under threat.”

Our Trustees have examined all the options available to them. To repair and refurbish our current building would cost at least £6m and still only secure our future for a maximum of 10 years, nor would it give us any extra facilities to support more patients and develop our services to meet the growing and changing needs of our local community. In addition, it would be impractical to undertake this extensive level of work with patients in situ and place unnecessary pressure on the delivery of our services.

Relocation is, we believe, the only cost-effective solution. We have looked at different sites in our area and found only one serious contender, in Bosham, that meets the criteria of location, access, price and, we hope, the consent to develop what we need. On this site we plan to build a new Hospice, incorporating all the 21st Century facilities we do not currently have. It will enable us to continue offering high-quality services and devote skills and the very best end of life care to patients and their loved ones.

Jacqui Bourne, Lead Nurse for Inpatient Services, says, “St Wilfrid’s is incredibly fortunate to have such long-standing, experienced and skilled nursing teams. The clinical team is looking forward to using their extensive knowledge to deliver the same high quality specialist care the Hospice is known for, in the new St Wilfrid’s, supported by a building which enables them to better meet their patients’ needs.”

We have submitted a planning application this week for the proposed site and we hope to hear the decision by the end of September. If granted, raising the funds to build the new hospice will be our next big challenge. We are going to need the support of the whole community – just as we did 30 years ago.