Helen & Douglas House is a well established and much respected charity specialising in caring for young people with life-shortening conditions and in providing the emotional, practical and spiritual support needed by their families.
The charity operates as two distinct but co-ordinated hospice houses. Helen House opened in 1982 as the world's first children's hospice. Douglas House opened in 2004 specifically for young adults aged 16-35.
Both hospice houses offer expert treatment for symptom and pain management, medically-supported short breaks and end-of-life care. Medical care is complemented with full-service counselling and practical support for the family.
As a charity Helen & Douglas House relies almost entirely on donations from people in the community to be able to run the two hospice houses and services.
A Short History
Helen House was opened in November 1982 as the world's first children's hospice. Sister Frances Dominica became friends with the parents of a seriously ill little girl called Helen who lived at home with her family and required 24 hour care.
Helen's family's experience highlighted the need for respite care and support for children with life-shortening conditions. Helen House was founded to provide occasional respite care modelled on that provided in the family home - tailored to the needs of the individual child.
Helen House provides specialist medical care for children with life-shortening conditions, aged from birth to 18 years-old, in a comfortable, safe and friendly environment.
The hospice has eight beds which are supported by four family flats providing vitally important family accommodation.
Facilities also include a spa, games room, music room, lots of games, books and toys and other fun things to make the most of respite time.
The hospice is very well staffed with registered children's nurses, nursery nurses, carers, a physiotherapist, play specialists, aromatherapists, a teacher and the Family Support & Bereavement Team.
A small team of doctors specialising in paediatric palliative care provide 24 hour medical cover.
Most adult hospices tend to focus on an older age group whereas Douglas House is specifically designed to cater to the needs of those aged 16 to 35. The hospice is bright, airy and vibrant and avoids the clinical ambiance of most hospice environments.
Douglas House offers seven beds in total, including one emergency bed. The rich set of facilities are designed to suit younger people and include a Jacuzzi, a games room, a music room and even a bar.
Douglas House allows young adults to meet other young people in their own age group who are facing similar challenges and encourages living life to the full.
Helen & Douglas House recognise the importance of supporting the whole family through challenging times. Their Family Support and Bereavement Team offers emotional, spiritual and social support to parents, partners, siblings and other involved family members.
This support can begin from the first stay at the hospice through to bereavement support.
Palliative Care Service
The palliative care service at Helen & Douglas House provides specialist medical, nursing, psychological, emotional, and social support for young people with conditions including cancer.
Care is designed around each individual’s needs and can include in-patient admission, outreach visits to home or hospital, or supportive care during treatment as needed.
Advice on effective symptom control is available to both patients and professionals around the clock. Members of the team work alongside the specialist nurses at the Oxford University Hospitals.
Some Recent Testionials
‘Coming to Helen House has made all the difference in the world to Josh and us as a family. By helping us as parents and giving us respite, advice, emotional support and medical guidance, we are so much better able to care for Josh... A great volunteer comes to visit weekly and is such a help. It is such a small thing, but having a volunteer come to help with just going for a little walk makes a massive difference to my sanity and Josh's well-being.’
Josh’s mum and dad Clare and Simon.
‘When we need a few days to spend time as a couple, or concentrate on our other two children, Helen & Douglas House provides Sienna with a welcoming and safe place to go. It keeps us going as carers; there really is no substitute for the headspace that time away from your caring role gives you. It makes you feel normal again and able to carry on with one of the hardest roles there is in life.’
Sienna’s mum and dad Kay and Andy.
How To Find Out More
To find out more about how Helen & Douglas House could be of help to you or your family, contact them on 01865 794749 Monday-Friday 9.00 to 5.00.
Alternatively visit their website here.
Job Vacancy: Head of Community and Events Fundraising at Helen & Douglas House, Oxford
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