Frequently asked questions

We hope our frequently asked questions can answer all the queries you have, but you can’t find the answer to something please feel free to contact us.

How many children and families do you care for?

Shooting Star Children’s Hospices supports 700 life-limited babies, children and young people and their families living in London and Surrey. Our bespoke support is available 365 days a year at our two purpose build children’s hospices and in their own homes at no cost to the families.

How many families are there who could require your services?

Nearly six million people live in the area we provide support. This is approximately 10% of the total population of England. In our catchment area there are more than 1,000 families who have a life-limited child. Our challenge is to make sure that every family who needs our help knows about us and the full range of services we have to offer.

What services does Shooting Star Children’s Hospices offer?

We offer families planned short breaks at our two children’s hospices; Hospice at Home; day care and special activities for the whole family; family support, counselling and therapies; symptom management and paediatric palliative care; emergency support for families in a crisis; care at the end of a child’s or young person’s life and bereavement support for the whole family, for as long as they need us.

How much does it cost to run Shooting Star Children’s Hospices?

It costs £10 million a year – £27,000 a day.

How is your service funded?

Approximately 10% of our income comes from government funding so we rely on our supporters’ generosity to raise the difference to keep the service running. What’s more, we know there are many more families desperate for our vital support, so it’s crucial we raise more funds to provide more care.

How many nights does a family get allocated?

We are committed to providing care in whichever way each family needs us and this will differ very much depending on the individual family circumstances. We offer each family 12 nights a year for short breaks at our children’s hospices as well as care at home and in the community. In addition to the allocated 12 nights, families will be able to request to go on a short notice booking list, which will not count against this allocation but are offered as a bonus. We also have a priority list for contact at short notice for children or families going through a particularly difficult time. If there is an emergency or a child requires end-of-life care, this does not take away from the family’s ongoing support.

How many doctors/nurses do you employ?

We have more than 100 staff in our care team, made up of paediatric nurses, nursery nurses, care assistants, therapists, social workers, counsellors and activities and education co-ordinators. We have 12 GPs from different local practices, who provide round-the-clock, on-call cover. We employ an in-house consultant in paediatric palliative care who we share with the Royal Marsden and who works at Christopher’s two days a week. We also work closely with the ‘Symptom Control Team’ at Great Ormond Street Hospital and a paediatric palliative consultant who attends Shooting Star House every week.

How do you decide who receives care?

Referrals can come from anywhere (e.g. the family, GPs, hospitals, consultants, community nursing teams), provided it is with the knowledge and consent of the child’s or young person’s parent or main carer. We assess the needs of referred children and young people and, after obtaining written consent from their families, look to find further information about their condition from the professionals they see regularly. Each week we hold a multi-disciplinary referral panel, where we look at the information provided and decide together if the child or young person fits our referral criteria. If a child or young person is refused, we will always reconsider a further referral if their condition changes or new information becomes available. Similarly, there is a regular review of each child we support.

How long does the referral process take?

The referral process can take a minimum of two weeks. Once accepted, care can be arranged quickly. In an emergency, a child or young person could be referred in a matter of hours.

Can a child from another children’s hospice area also use Christopher’s or Shooting Star House?

If a child lives closer to another hospice we would encourage them to apply to the one nearest their home for convenience. However, the family have the right to decide and we would always be fully supportive of their decision. All children’s hospice services work together and if a child who usually uses another hospice is coming to our area, they may contact us to see if we can help with their stay.

What kind of condition would a child have to have to be referred to Shooting Star Children’s Hospices?

All the babies, children and young people we care for have life-limiting or life-threatening conditions. Contact us for full details of the specific criteria, by calling 020 8783 2000 (Hampton) or 01483 230960 (Guildford) or by emailing

Will you be considering a young adults unit in the near future?

We are looking at ways to ensure the continuing care of our teenagers when they reach adulthood. A lot of work is underway with adult hospices and other healthcare providers on this important area of transition.