Celebrating 20 years at Richard House Children’s Hospice

Published: January 15, 2020

Anthea Hare, Founder

2020 marks the 20th anniversary of Richard House. When we opened at the start of the millennium there were no other children’s hospices in London. Families facing a diagnosis of a life-limiting condition or the end of life for their child were left unsupported, putting an enormous strain on the family both emotionally and physically. Our founder, Anthea Hare, was inspired by her experiences as a paediatric nurse, and it was her vision that led to our day care centre opening in Beckton in November 2000, followed by our residential care unit in December 2002.

In our 20th year we are reflecting on how far Richard House has come since we opened. Today we support more than 300 families from across East London and the South East, many of whom live in the most deprived boroughs of London. However, there is still so much more to be done, and children’s hospice care remains underfunded. Each year we must raise two thirds of the £3.5 million needed to keep our services running through the generosity of donors such as yourselves.

Myles enjoying some respite in the garden

The services we provide, including respite care, post bereavement support, treatments such as music therapy to enable children to communicate through sound, support groups and family trips, are there to support the whole family. Visitors to Richard House are always struck by the joy and laughter they find here. It is a place which gives families precious memories, where all of the things that they or their children cannot do or access outside of Richard House are both possible and adapted so that the whole family can enjoy them. Last year many of our families joined us on their first ever trip to the seaside — an everyday trip for most of us, but for families with a life-limited child requiring specialist care, impossible without the help of Richard House.

Our nurse led team

Looking forward to the next 20 years, one of the areas we are focusing on is helping those families who cannot access our services here at the hospice. For many of our families, even leaving the house is almost impossible due to the complex 24-hour care and equipment their child needs. Last year we launched Hospice at Home, which enables us to offer care to families in their own homes, giving parents and carers a few hours break each week to do things which most of us take for granted — like going to the post office or taking another child to the park.

Hospice at home gives parents the opportunity to catch up on everyday things, providing much needed respite at home

Joshua’s family is one of those that has been using Hospice at Home over the last year. He has a neuro-degenerative condition and will always require constant care and supervision. He is also very susceptible to viruses and bugs, limiting where he can visit during the winter months. Hospice at Home allows Joshua’s parents, Alberta and Angelo, to spend some quality time with their other son Jonathan, knowing that Joshua is being well cared for with a member of the Richard House Care Team in their own home.

Alberta said:

“The Hospice at Home sessions allow us to take Jonathan to his karate and gymnastics lessons, knowing that Joshua is safely at home, also having fun. We don’t know how much longer Joshua may be with us, but we do know that through the continuing support of Richard House, we are making each day as positive as it can be. We are seeing him grow and develop into a smiley, joyful boy.”

Joshua playing in Day Care with mum, Alberta

Demand for Hospice at Home has far exceeded our expectations, and we now have a waiting list for the service. We want to expand the service over the next year so that we can help more of these families, and your support will be instrumental in helping us to do this.