On Monday 27 March 2017 two club members visited the Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People.
The hospice started in 1994 after a couple lost their child and it now caters for children and young people up to the age of 26 though this is “flexible”. Running costs are £5.5m per year with only 17% coming from government, so fundraising is essential.
There are 14 bedrooms, some with en-suite bathrooms and all are made to be as bright, cheerful and homely as possible. The children make their own door name plates and they have their favourite duvets and bedding. There are also four apartments where the families can stay with their child if deemed appropriate, but quite often the children ask their parents to leave them because they are with their friends and "other" family. There are also three bereavement rooms. These are cooled bedrooms where the children and young people are brought when they have died to be with their families. The nurses will talk and treat the deceased as if they were alive and the deceased can stay there for up to 10 days while the funeral arrangements are made. The families are not charged at any time for the use of the facilities.
The purchase of equipment is difficult because of the vast amount of money required for the general running costs, so any offers are most welcome and can fund or part fund much needed items, often helped with grants from elsewhere.
There is a corridor that connects the original building to the new building and has one wall is made up of glass blocks purchased by various supporters, including a large number of Rotary clubs. They ranged in price from £250 to £20,000 and raised £1m.
Facilities include a sensory room, a soft adventure room where the children can throw themselves about without hurting themselves. There is a music room, a small gym and a hydrotherapy pool that costs £60,000 a year to run (it needs to be at 37 degrees for some patients). There is also a family room that is very large allowing those who can't get out of bed to be a part of the activities, as well as a room for the older children and young people. The site has gardens and play areas with specialist playground equipment such as a swing and roundabout that a wheelchair user can use. There is also a remembrance garden for bereaved families to use whenever they want.
The hospice is very inspiring, it is a happy place and the nurses and doctors do a fantastic job. Apparently it can be emotionally draining for everyone who works there but they just keep going. The smiles and the laughter make it all worthwhile. Their new strapline is "Brightening Short Lives".
This video provides a tour of Rainbows: