An update from our Chief Executive, Nigel Harding

This is by far one of the most challenging and unprecedented times that many of us have had to face and I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well at this difficult time.

At Shooting Star Children’s Hospices our main priority is to do all we can to maintain services where possible and ensure the safety of the children and families we care for, as well as our staff, volunteers and supporters. We are continuing to closely monitor developments in relation to COVID-19 and we’re following guidance from Public Health England, the UK Government and the World Health Organisation.

Please find information below outlining how the current situation is affecting Shooting Star Children’s Hospices.

Our hospices

The babies, children and young people we support have compromised immune systems, which places them in a high-risk category so we’ve had to make tough, but necessary, decisions to ensure they, and their families, are safe. The measures we currently have in place are:

  • We are continuing to provide end-of-life care and emergency or urgent respite (including symptom stays and step-down care). Planned respite is currently not available (except for nights funded by the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)).
  • We are currently delivering all our clinical services from our Guildford hospice, Christopher’s, but we’re continuing to support children and families from across our catchment area – throughout Surrey and across 15 boroughs of London. Our Hampton hospice, Shooting Star House, remains closed to families for now and it’s unlikely it’ll re-open this financial year for overnight stays, however, we’re looking at how we can use Shooting Star House flexibly; for instance, in August we held a day for bereaved families at Shooting Star House and we’re looking at whether some of our Family Support Services (therapies, activity days etc) could be held here.
  • We have launched a virtual hospice, including virtual groups, a closed Facebook page and an online resource ‘hub’, to continue to reach as many families as possible who are self-isolating at home.
  • Face-to-face family groups and events have stopped, and professional courses and study days have been postponed.
  • Only supported families and care staff are permitted at the hospice.
  • Our care team are equipped with PPE and we have posters up reminding everyone to regularly wash their hands.
  • We’re being extra vigilant to ensure high contact areas such as door handles, light switches and toilets are being thoroughly cleaned.

COVID-19 risk assessments

Please find below the risk assessments we have in place for both Christopher’s and Shooting Star House, where our non-care staff are currently based.

Christopher’s

Shooting Star House

Fundraising and our shops

The day after the UK went into lockdown, we launched an emergency appeal to help bridge some of the gap we were facing in loss of income due to the coronavirus restrictions. We are extremely thankful and grateful to everyone who donated to our emergency appeal – you truly helped to ensure we could continue to provide our lifeline services during the most difficult of times we have ever faced.

On Thursday 8th April, we were given the welcome news that the UK Government were stepping up to help charities. We are thankful that at a time when our vital services are most needed, services that play an important role in supporting the NHS, the government made some vital funding available. However, this funding will only help us in the short-term. We are, sadly, still very reliant on our incredible community of supporters to help us through the next few months to ensure we’ll be here long into the future.

Our Sunrise Walk series

Due to the restrictions from the UK Government to minimise social contact and mass gatherings, we had to come to the very difficult decision to cancel both our Sunrise Walk events in Richmond (Sunday 31st May) and Guildford (Sunday 28th June). This was a truly difficult decision for us to make and was incredibly disappointing for so many of our supporters. A huge thank you to everyone who has instead taken part in our Virtual Sunrise Walk. Our new Snowdon Sunrise Walk has been moved to April next year and we’re hopeful that we can bring back our iconic Sunrise Walk in Richmond and Guildford in 2021.

Our shops

It was with a heavy heart that we decided to temporarily close our high street shops on Saturday 21st March. We’re delighted to have since been able to re-open some of our shops in line with government guidance – please check here for current opening days and times. Sadly, because we have a low profit margin for some shops it has meant that we’ve had to take the difficult decision to try and re-assign the lease on some of our shops. If the leases are re-assigned, it does not necessarily mean that we will leave the area for ever – we anticipate rents may come down in the near future and we may find a property that is cheaper to rent.

We kindly ask that you do not leave donations outside any of our shops. Please do check our shops page for up-to-date information on which of our shops are currently able to accept donations.

Long term impact

As I’ve outlined above, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable impact on Shooting Star Children’s Hospices in terms of the care that we can provide at this time and our ability to fundraise. We have done all we can to reduce our monthly outgoings, but to ensure we can continue to meet the needs of the families we support now and in the future, we’ve had to make further changes. Over the summer we were in consultation with our staff and, whilst we did everything we could to keep changes to our workforce to a minimum, we very sadly had to make some redundancies.

We also had to adapt our care service offering. The main change that we’ve made is consolidating the care we provide into three areas. This will help us to work in a more streamlined and holistic way, whilst still ensuring we can provide the families we support with care that’s responsive to their needs:

  • In-house care – we will continue to provide overnight care at our hospices including emergency respite, symptom stays and planned respite for families who are eligible. This is a core area of our work as a children’s hospice and will not be changing. What is changing? We have seen a declining need for our Day Care and pre-school groups, so these in-house services will no longer be provided.
  • Symptom and community nursing – our symptom clinical nurse specialists and community nurses will work as one team providing end-of-life care and symptom management. Again, these services are vital to the families we support. What is changing? With our community nurses focusing on end-of-life care, we will no longer be able to provide respite in the family home.
  • Family support – our family support workers (previously known as keyworkers), therapists, counsellors, social workers and transition co-ordinator will now work together in one team ensuring non-clinical support is provided holistically. We have also launched a Family Support Line which families can call for advice or support, if they would just like someone to talk to, if they want to discuss respite, or if they’d like to be referred for counselling or therapies. What is changing? We are continuing to deliver all parts of our family support service.

We are continuing to assess and adapt what care we can safely provide right now, during the current pandemic, and we hope that in time we can start providing more elements of our face-to-face care as Government guidance relaxes.

I’d like to thank you for all your support over the last few months. We have been blown away at how our community has come together to help us continue to provide care during the most challenging of times. Whilst the next few months remain uncertain for the UK, what we do know is we will continue to need you. So, whether you donate, take on a virtual challenge for us, ask your company to support us or simply share our posts on social media – please do all you can to continue supporting your local children’s hospice.

Please do continue to check this page as we will update it as and when things change.

Thank you for your continued support,

Nigel

 

Last updated: 28/09/2020

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