Richard House Children's Hospice
West Ham United’s official charity partner has continued to provide vital support for vulnerable families during the COVID-19 pandemic
The year 2020 marked the 20th anniversary of Richard House Children’s Hospice. And what a year it was!
No-one could have predicted the events of the past 12 months, or the impact they would have on the community we look after. This has been an unprecedented time for Richard House. We remained committed to caring for life-limited children and their families, as we have done for nearly 21 years.
Our families are coping in extraordinary circumstances, with the majority of parents taking on the care of their life-limited child 24/7. Feelings of loneliness and anxiety – which many of our families struggled with before this pandemic – are being heightened by the isolation and stress of shielding a child who is critically vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.
Here, we share some stories from our Richard House community about how the situation is impacting their lives.
Richard House nurse Sarah’s story
Sarah Crowley, a Palliative Care Nurse at Richard House, talks about some of the ways she and her team are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Richard House has taken on an important role supporting the by taking on children with long-term conditions from hospital wards, so that we can free up hospital beds for people who need critical care.
“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 who needs to voice their worries or by offering lifts to staff members who rely on public transport.
“I know that everyone is affected by the fear and anxiety caused by COVID-19. But we, as care staff know that it is vital to continue coming into Richard House because of the support we provide to the most vulnerable families in our communities.”
How our services have adapted
Lockdown and social distancing changed the way we deliver all of our services at Richard House, from essential medical care, to the emotional support we offer loved ones. We are following government guidelines at every stage, and our commitment to protecting our vulnerable beneficiaries and staff has necessitated strict COVID measures.
Thanks to our investment in more robust systems and technology, we are now able to connect with our children and families via video and telephone offering virtual therapy and counselling sessions, online parent support groups and music therapy for children delivered via Zoom.
Shifting to online and remote ways of working has been vital in ensuring we can still reach out to our beneficiaries and help alleviate feelings of isolation, as well as connecting them with one another through lockdown.
Shielding additional children
With many of our families choosing to remain at home rather than bring their children in for residential stays at the hospice, our five bedrooms have become increasingly available and we knew back in April that we had the opportunity to play a bigger role in our community through this crisis.
We have been taking in children from local hospitals, shielding them in a more protected environment to minimise the risk of contracting the virus and supporting our local NHS to cope with the additional strain of new Covid patients. Most of these young patients are currently undergoing long-term treatment, or in recovery, and just as vulnerable as the life-limited children on our existing caseload.
Richard House was the first children’s hospice in London and we have provided care to life-limited children and their families in the community for 20 years. It is essential that we remain open, and into the future, so we can continue being a lifeline to the many vulnerable people who need us now more than ever.
We ensure that children receive the care and families receive the support they need, when and where they need it. £3 out of every £4 we need to spend, must come from donations. There are many ways you can support us and local seriously ill children. Simply go to richardhouse.org.uk.
We are extremely grateful to have the support of West Ham through what has arguably been our toughest year yet. A huge thank you from us all!