‘It means we can do so much more’ – inside Sunderland’s new £12million hospice

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THE city’s first purpose built hospice is set to change the way people with life-limiting illnesses are cared for.

The £12 million St Benedict’s Hospice, in Ryhope, finally opened its doors this month.

St Benedict's Hospice has moved from Monkwearmouth Hospital on Newcastle Road to Ryhope and its new facilites are both impressive and spacious.

St Benedict's Hospice has moved from Monkwearmouth Hospital on Newcastle Road to Ryhope and its new facilites are both impressive and spacious.

Staff say the new, bigger building, is already improving the care they provide to patients, as well as their families.

Clinical business manager at St Benedict’s, Katherine Henderson, helped in the planning and development.

“It’s fantastic,” she said. “Having a purpose built facility means we can do so much more. We have 14 bedrooms for in-patients, which is two more than we used to.

“We are currently caring for 16 patients who come in on a daily basis, though we want to increase that by 50 per cent, and we have a number of out-patients. We can also provide treatments such as physiotherapy, complimentary therapy such as massage, and other therapies such as artwork, or cards.”

Katherine said the new building, which has rooms for relatives such as a kitchen and dining area, and bedrooms, is more focused on the whole family.

“I think we found with palliative care services that people think it is just a place to come and end your life,” she said. “When in fact, it’s a place where people and their families can come just for some relief.”

The hospice moved from Monkwearmouth Hospital, Newcastle Road, where it has been based since 1984. The St Benedict’s Hospice charity spent £1.3 million on the new building, to help create a hotel like atmosphere, rather than a hospital. Complete with a roof garden, and lake area, the nationally recognised palliative care service has conference facilities for meetings and lectures.

Ward manager Chris Allison, said the new building has already changed patient care.

“It’s great,” she said. “The build and move has been amazing really.

“I’ve only been here a couple of weeks, but I can already see how we are growing into the extra rooms.”

Chris, who has worked at St Benedict’s since 1999, said having care facilities such as consulting rooms for GPs will increase the work the hospice does.

“I think people just think of us as an in-patient facility, but we are so much more than that. We have out patient services all under one roof.

“The feedback so far has been fantastic – especially about the outside space. The patients can go outside, and those in wheelchairs can be pushed around the lake.”

John Jeffries, 80, of Barmston, Washington, suffers from motor neurone disease and visits the hospice for respite care.

“It’s very nice,” he said. “And a step in the right direction. I like the room, I can look out of the window and see the grass and also the traffic – I like to watch the cars.”

John’s partner of 12 years, Muriel Dunn, 78, also of Barmston, said the new facility gives her peace of mind.

“I don’t have to worry about anything when he’s here,” she said. “It’s like a five star hotel.”