It’s been 10 years of care and support for families at “incredible” Spring Garden Lane and The Hospice of St Francis can’t believe how quickly time has flown.
On January 22, 2007, it opened the doors to its new multi-winged building for the first time, with The Duke of Kent conducting the official ribbon-cutting ceremony later that year.
It had outgrown its former base – a small converted house in Shrublands Road, Berkhamsted, previously owned by the Sisters of St Francis – and the community dug deep to help fund the £6.4 million building project.
Medical director, Dr Sharon Chadwick, joined the old hospice 14 years ago. “We only had eight beds and if a patient needed a single room during their stay, manoeuvring the beds along a corridor barely wide enough to accommodate a bed was a real challenge,” she said.
“There was no capacity for delivering outpatient services and parking was also extremely limited. Our vision was for a purpose-built building to help us expand and develop our services and to have rooms better suited for caring for our sickest patients in a peaceful, calm environment that would promote healing in the holistic sense.
“Thanks to expert change management and close collaboration with the architect, we arrived at a plan for the very special building we have today.
“We are so lucky to have such an amazing resource.”
Improvements included lighter, airier rooms with a view and access to the seven-acre gardens. Bathrooms were equipped with specialist tilting and side-opening jacuzzi baths.
Phil Maton, a 44-year-old father from Hemel Hempstead with terminal lung cancer, was the first patient to be admitted. “The care was amazing,” Phil’s widow Penny said. “Even down to Chris, the Hospice chef, preparing Phil’s favourite meal so we could celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary with our best friends.
“But the five days he spent in the new hospice were incredible. He had his own private room, it was bright, airy and spotless, so much more spacious and all the specialist equipment to wash him and move him was available at the touch of a button. He felt privileged to be here.”
After Phil passed away, his family and friends clubbed together to plant a tree in the new hospice garden.
Inspired by the care he received, Penny switched jobs and now works in the Community Nurse Specialist team.
“I’m so proud to be part of the hospice,” she said. “I love my job and the best part is being able to give people the same love and support we as a family received 10 years ago.”
Steve Jamieson, hospice CEO, said: “It’s wonderful to be celebrating our 10th anniversary and to have grown and developed so much as an organisation.
“We’ve achieved a lot in 10 years across all our services, all with the help of our dedicated staff, volunteers and supporters, without whom we simply wouldn’t exist.”
The hospice is marking the milestone by planting 10 commemorative lilac trees in the garden and by having a celebration tea for staff, volunteers and association members.
Every year, the hospice cares for 2,000 people affected by a life-limiting illness.