We recently announced a redesign of our service provision which will ensure we can continue to deliver our essential support for families and young people for years to come.  

The hospice, in North Anston, has been through a challenging period following the Covid-19 pandemic, facing recruitment challenges and subsequently having to make the difficult decision to temporarily suspend some clinical care services in 2022. 

However, the hospice – which remained open throughout this period has now unveiled plans for the future, confirming how provision will look moving forward. 

Heidi Hawkins, CEO of Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, said: “Like many charities and organisations, our well-known and loved children’s hospice has faced challenges brought on by the pandemic and recruitment challenges, which led to us making the very hard decision in June 2022 to temporary suspend some of our clinical care services. 

“To add to the complexities of the situation it was becoming evident that, since our hospice opened nearly 16 years ago, the needs of children with life-limiting conditions have changed.  

“Children are also living for longer, with more complex conditions and with more dependence on technology which has meant it was essential we reevaluated what the hospice offered and how we could ensure we had the workforce to meet those needs.” 

Bluebell Wood, which opened in 2008, cares for babies, children and young people from across South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire, North Derbyshire and parts of North Lincolnshire whose lives are sadly just too short, both in their own homes and at the hospice.   

As well as clinical care services, it provides a home-from-home for families facing the toughest of times providing plenty of fun activities for families to create special memories together. The team also do amazing work supporting other health care providers out in the community and in local hospitals too.  

Bluebell Wood’s redesign of its services ensures a sustainable future for the hospice, meeting the needs of all who use it, and includes: 

  • The reopening of clinical care services which is now underway following a determined and focused recruitment drive for nurses, support workers and team leaders. Some care services, including care and short breaks at home and two-night stays at the hospice, were resumed in December 2022, and, as recruitment has continued to see positive results, the hospice is now open five nights per week with plans for this to expand further. 
  • A nurse-led model of care has been adopted with the appointment of a team of highly experienced nurses, who have completed additional training, so they can treat children with a range of needs. The hospice’s previous model, which included the appointment of a consultant paediatrician, was out of step with how most of the other 55 children’s hospices across the UK manage their care. The new approach ensures that care services offered by Bluebell Wood are responsive to families and delivered in a safe, effective, child-focused and family-centred way. 
  • A new Symptom Management Team has been recruited to provide responsive symptom management 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year enabling Bluebell Wood to play a more central role in providing responsive palliative care out in the community in line with the invaluable hospice in the community service provided by some adult hospitals. 
  • A new Transition Team has been appointed to work with young people between the ages of 14 and 25 years who are supported by the hospice. These two new members of staff help ensure young people have a smooth transition from children’s services to adult services including managing their care, educational and social needs. 
  • Continued recruitment remains a key priority as the hospice looks to fill the final vacancies which will complete the team and evolve clinical care services so the hospice can reach more families that need support as soon as possible. Services will then be developed around symptom management, care at home and bereavement support as well as the hospice being able to resume end-of-life care in the hospice and offer more overnight stays in the hospice, care for children after death and more support for families when life-limiting conditions are found during pregnancy. 

Despite the temporary suspension of clinical care services two years ago, the hospice has remained open, providing a range of Family Support services as well as welcoming families into the hospice for craft and sensory activity days, and brothers and sisters through sibling workshops and days out.  

Additionally, the bereavement counselling service, music therapy work, parent groups and wellbeing workshops have all remained in place as the hospice has continues to play an active role in the community.  

Heidi added: “Alongside maintaining our Family Support Services provision and improving the family experience at the hospice by refreshing and updating all areas at the hospice, we have been looking carefully at the wide-ranging issues the hospice was facing.  

Our vision was to build a team of professionals to make us stronger and able to withstand any future changes and we are really pleased to announce that a lot of this work has now been completed. This has culminated in the hospice now being in a much stronger position to provide clinical care services that are robust, responsive and sustainable. 

“There is no doubt that the last couple of years have been difficult, but it is important we now move forward and let people know that we have been working tirelessly to rebuild our service and protect our amazing hospice so it is here for years to come.” 

It costs almost £6.5m each year to keep the hospice running, with only around 16 percent of funding from government and the remaining 84 percent generated by fundraising. All services are completely free to families who are referred to Bluebell Wood.  

Added Heidi: “Whilst we have made many positive changes, the fundamental thing that hasn’t changed is Bluebell Wood continuing to be there for families who need us and part of that does come down to funding. We rely on the support of businesses and the community to help with all our fundraising efforts so we can be here long into the future.  

“Fundraising is vital to us so we are very much looking forward to continuing to work with the local community to help and support us. It’s important they have confidence in us and are aware of what we provide now and our plans moving forward. 

“Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice really does have a bright future ahead and by us all working together we know the positive difference we will continue to make.”