Shooting Star House, our Hampton hospice, welcomed 60 nursing students in their 3rd Year from Kingston and St George’s University of London on 4th February for a day of learning and insight about children’s hospices.

The aim of the day was to explore the role of a children’s hospice in supporting children, young adults and their families, with the hope it would offer the students more understanding about them and the services they provide.


The students were welcomed by Head of Care Geraldine Sheedy, Head of Practice Education and Quality Toni Menezes and Clinical Informatics Nurse Cath Grob who conducted the learning session.

Jayne Price, Professor of Children’s Nursing at Kingston University and St George’s University in London and who is a Trustee of Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, said of the day; “From my work, particularly through my research, I know that for families, hospices conjure up the image of a sad, dark place where a child goes to die. Many professionals too don’t really understand what children’s hospices offer and how they differ from adult hospices.

“Such a lack of understanding prevents hospices reaching the children and families they can help. One way of trying to shift the stigma is ensuring that professionals learn as early in their careers as possible the services that hospices provide, and see first-hand that children’s hospices are happy, bright places about living – however short that life may be.”

The groups were taken on a guided tour of the hospice to see all the facilities first-hand, including the children’s bedrooms, the sensory room and hydrotherapy pool. They then attended an interactive and collaborative learning session where the students found out about the history of children’s hospices, the range of services and support offered, as well as watching videos from a supported dad’s perspective as well as a Shooting Star Children’s Hospices – Hospice at Home nurse.

The students were then asked to think about the particular needs of different groups including parents, siblings and extended family and friends, and create mind maps about what they thought a children’s hospice can provide in terms of support to these different groups.

Jayne Price continued, “This field visit enabled 3rd Year nursing students an opportunity to see a children’s hospice and explore the services they provide. Some of the students may eventually go into this field of work in the future, but even if they don’t they will be interacting with families who may use or could use children’s hospice care.

“The visit was very powerful both in the group activities which helped the students explore what care and services were on offer for different groups e.g. babies, children, young people, parents and siblings and the extended family; as well as the tour which reinforced the holistic family centred approach.”

At the end of the visit the students were asked what they had taken from the day, with comments including:

“I’ve had an amazing insight into what services hospices provide. It has allowed me to change my perspective and look at it in a much more positive light”; “I have always associated hospices with death. I now know that this isn’t the case but much more of a home away from home”; “Hospices aren’t all doom and gloom and can be so beneficial for families”; “Shooting Star Children’s Hospices are all about happiness and feeling free, defying all stereotypes regarding palliative care;” “A great service that involves the whole family. The visit will help me inform families that might need their help.”

Jayne concluded, “The staff were so welcoming and had a great range of activities planned for the students. As a trustee I felt so proud of the staff and the organisation. The students seemed truly captivated by what they saw and in awe of the professionals they met.”

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