Families being supported by Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice have received good news which will bring them festive joy. 

The hospice has announced it is about to welcome back children and young people needing respite care from 19th December 2022. 

The return to clinical services comes after a ‘determined and focused’ recruitment drive by senior management to fill key care roles. 

The much-needed South Yorkshire charity has been providing specialist care and support  to children living with life-shortening and life-threatening illnesses in South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and North Lincolnshire since opening in 2008. 

The difficult decision to temporarily suspend clinical services had to be made on May 31 this year, after its North Anston base was affected by national staff shortages hitting the care sector. 

“We are over the moon to be able to offer clinical respite care again. It is one of the most important and valued ways in which we can support families who have children and young adults with life-threatening and life-shortening illnesses,” said David Wilkin, Chair of Trustees 

“Respite care can literally be a lifeline to families experiencing continual worry, fear and stress. The decision to suspend it was made with great sadness and after every effort had been made to prevent it.

“Our priorities will always be a high level of care and safe services with the right level of expertise and the correct staff framework to comply with regulations. We had to be pragmatic and put the safety of children and young people first.  

“We are confident we now have the right team in place to give the best possible care and support. 

“Initially will be offering families two-night overnight stays at the hospice, or community short breaks at home.  We will be expanding this service as soon as possible.” 

Children and young people coming for care will find a refreshed and updated hospice environment. A makeover using autism-friendly muted colour schemes has refreshed the main lounge, sensory room, bedrooms and bathrooms. New, app-controlled lighting, which runs from soft and soothing to energising disco, has been installed to modernise the hospice. 

Many families have seen the new-look hospice evolve over recent months, as non-clinical support has been maintained throughout. The hospice welcomed families in for craft and sensory activity days throughout the clinical care suspension, and during the summer 147 people attended an activity day. Sibling support continued, along with bereavement counselling, music therapy work, parent groups and wellbeing workshops.  

The hospice is also continuing its recruitment drive in a bid to future-proof its care provision.

Said Emma Doughty, Strategic Lead for Care: "The shortage of experts in paediatric palliative care is reflected nationally and is by no means specific to Bluebell Wood.  We have been exceptionally fortunate to recruit a number of new nurses, support workers and team leaders to join our hospice team.  We still have a small number of vacancies and are looking for more nurses and support workers to join us and enable us to expand our services. 

“People working in roles such as teaching assistants and adult social care have strong transferable skills which would be so valuable to us. 

“I can’t think of a more rewarding place to work. While there are times of sadness, many days are filled with love and laughter.”