Changing perceptions of children’s hospices - #ChildrensHospiceWeek

24 May 2017

This week is Children’s Hospice Week #ChildrensHospiceWeek, during which we are working with Together for Short Lives and children’s hospices across the UK to help raise awareness of the number and needs of children with life-limiting conditions. 

We are also trying to change people’s perceptions about some of the myths surrounding children’s palliative care. 

We asked our staff and volunteers what the one thing would be that you wish people knew about children’s hospices, and that you think they would be surprised to hear. The overwhelming response from everyone is just how happy children’s hospices are. 

David, in our community fundraising team said “as soon as you mention the word hospice to people, they think what a sad place it must be”. He often replies that “yes, sad things do happen, but more often than not, if you found yourself in one of our hospices and witnessed what was going on around you, it would be very unlikely for you to realise that you were in a hospice”. 

Sophie, in our HR team, reiterated the point and said that Demelza is “one of the most happiest places to work” that she has experienced. 

Courtney, in our Family Support team, added to this point and said that when she speaks with past colleagues from other childrens’ service organisations. “Sometimes they automatically think what a sad place it must be to work, but that she’s found Demelza to be “full of great energy and fun play opportunities”. “It’s helping families with the small things that their minds just don’t have time to think about and creating memories with families that are priceless”.

It’s not only our staff and volunteers who remark how happy a place Demelza is, but also our families too. Lawrence, father to Joshua who came to Demelza shortly after he was born, says “I had a preconceived idea of what a hospice was and I didn’t want Joshua there. I had a view of a hospice as a depressing, bleak environment and I didn’t want my son involved”. After a tour of the hospice and the opportunity to meet some of the team and other families, Lawrence’s views soon changed. “This was a happy place, a fun place, a child’s dream house!”. He adds, “arriving at Demelza essentially gave me my family back. We were suddenly able to all be together and concentrate on just loving him. The last month of Joshua’s life was the best time we all had together as a family. I knew his pain was being managed and we were able to play with him each day, hold him and love him.” You can read more about Joshua's story in our latest appeal. 

When James, our Transition and Youth Engagement Support Worker, faces negativity around working in a hospice, he simply responds by saying “You’d be surprised, it’s actually the happiest, most positive, upbeat place I’ve ever been!”.