The Lord Lieutenant opens therapy centre

A NEW Day Therapy Centre at St Michael’s Hospice was officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex at a ceremony last Friday (February 28), writes Jennifer Kennedy.

Offering people with life-limiting illnesses the opportunity to meet new friends and receive therapies, the centre has been redesigned to include a dedicated art and craft area, a photography suite and an internet and information hub.

Other new additions to the hospice also include a new nurses station, and an overnight room with en-suite facilities for families and friends which was furnished with donations from Marie Williams and her family.

The modernisation of the centre will allow the hospice to offer a range of new activities for patients, including computer workshops and photography.

Dawn Chalcraft, day therapy service manager, told the Observer: “The refurbishment will allow us to carry out far more activities and offer as wider range of activities for as many people as possible.

“We wanted to be able to offer some new activities, more up-to-date activities that will perhaps attract some younger people. Illness knows no age boundary, so really it was about being able to offer something for everybody. We’ve got cameras, computers and we’ve also got Skype going on now. The art room is fantastic, fully equipped and fit for purpose.”

Funding for the project, which took just 15 weeks to complete, came from numerous grants including the Department of Health’s Capital Funding Project, The Isobel Blackman Foundation and the ITV Meridian Tonight’s 2013 People’s Millions campaign.

Elaine McDonough, head of clinical services, said: “Following extensive research, it was clear the improvements to the current building would cost a fraction of the amount of moving to a new facility-and cause less disruption.

“We are absolutely delighted with the results and know the improvements will give our patients and their families an improved facility where they are able to spend valuable time together. We hope the increased service will create 20 per cent more day therapy spaces each year and increase opportunities for volunteers and local community members.”

The day centre is currently open Monday to Thursday but the hospice is hoping that in the future it can extend its opening days. A competition to the name the day centre has been launched and will run until the end of March with voting to take place on the hospice’s website and Facebook and a naming ceremony later in the years.

Dawn added: “The idea is new name, new perception, so that people feel that it is a new modern space to come.”