The Macmillan Unit at Christchurch Hospital is a Specialist Palliative Care Unit for patients in South East Dorset and South West Hampshire and it is run by the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. ‘Macmillan Caring Locally’ aims to provide the highest standard of care and an attractive, homely environment for patients, their families and visitors. The charity also provides nursing and medical equipment to improve patient treatment and comfort. In 2009, the Macmillan Unit was awarded ‘Practice Development Status’ making it a Centre of Excellence for Palliative Care. At Macmillan Caring Locally, we believe caring for our patients and providing them with a place where they feel supported, relaxed and respected is paramount. It is the very least that they deserve.
Attached to Christchurch Hospital, our palliative care unit provides patients and their families with a retreat and a place where they can get the support and care that is so vital when suffering with a terminal illness. The Macmillan unit has an inpatient ward caring for 16 patients, a team of 12 palliative care sisters who visit up to 400 patients in the community, a family support team, a physiotherapy department, a day centre accommodating 15 people, a chapel and a hospital support team who see the patients in the Royal Bournemouth hospital.
The staff and volunteers who run the unit are dedicated, incredible people who give so much for our patients and this is reflected in the feedback received by the unit.
However, the building is dated. Built in 1974, it is struggling to support the services our team strive to provide or an environment that is fit for purpose to care for our patients. Currently, patients need to be taken through the hospital reception in order to get to the garden, which adversely affects their dignity and independence. There is limited security for dementia patients and shared bathroom facilities do not provide adequate privacy. New technology such as specialist beds just don’t fit in the unit so improvements and extra space is needed for us to keep up to date with our care. We have virtually no storage space for wheelchairs and other equipment and the technology to support family contact and independent care is extremely limited.
The New Build
With your help, we can to build a new palliative care unit that will provide our patients with a restful and homely environment in which to spend their precious remaining time.
The new building, while not feeling like a hospital, will be designed to accommodate the needs of patients with life limiting illnesses. With 20 beds on the ground floor and support services moved to the first floor, each room will have comfortable furniture, a view of the garden, direct access to a shady terrace and opening doors to allow for socialising. Bays will be named rather than numbered and the layout will be easy to navigate, connecting all parts of the service. Each patient will be able to add some personal touches to their room and there will be up to date technology giving patients access to communications with family or to simply order a take away meal.
For relatives and other visitors, refreshments, a kitchen and hand washing facilities will be available. Additional space and comfortable seating in the patient lounges and break out areas for relatives will be provided so they can be nearby during patient assessments and care procedures.
In order to support the unit, more staff office space is required. A meeting room with presentation equipment and a seminar room will be incorporated into the build along with consultant offices and consultancy rooms. Additional office space is required to support the expansion of volunteer services, the fundraising team and education services.
The unit also desperately needs more storage for unit supplies, equipment and patient property. A quiet zone and a children’s space will also be invaluable to patients and families, as well as a more welcoming entrance area. Gardens and outdoor space are vital in providing an ‘escape’ for patients and families. Overnight facilities, therapy, security and equipment to support the physical needs of everyone will help to make this building become a unit that reaches the highest of standards in care.
Here at Macmillan Caring Locally, we have asked our patients and their visitors what they think would make an ideal hospice. With your help, we can provide them with all the elements that contribute towards a more personal and comfortable experience at the new hospice.
Referrals to the palliative care unit at Macmillan Caring Locally have increased by 100% in the last seven years. In fact, in 2006 there were 581 referrals to our service and in 2016 there were 1543 referrals - you can see why we need to move to larger premises.
We are unable to add to our current building but referrals to the unit are continuing to increase and as the unit was the first of its kind when it was built in 1974, there are many improvements to patient facilities that have been learned over the years, that our clinical team would like to include in the new building.
This is going to be a major project for us and a very important build for the community. The new building will give staff, volunteers, patients and families the enormous boost that is necessary to sustain the exceptional level of care that is delivered at Macmillan Caring Locally. Support is available not only for cancer patients but also for people with other life threatening conditions - 25% of our patients do not have cancer, they may have conditions such as MND, or heart or lung conditions where specialist palliative care is needed. The varying needs of our patients demands a huge amount of resources and equipment and the additional space, modernised appearance, vital medical supplies and equipment would have such a positive impact on everyone at the unit.
Thanks to the dedication of our supporters, we have been able to set aside £5M over the last 35 years. However, we still have a funding requirement of £6M in order to ensure the completion of our new building. The are meeting regularly with the architects, initial drawings have been created and a breakdown of costs will be available soon.
We believe that providing a new building for our patients, their families, our staff and volunteers will make a huge difference to the community. The new hospice will be the cornerstone for the future of palliative care in South East Dorset, South West Hampshire and the surrounding area.