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St Wilfrid’s Hospice: a building without barriers

Author: Lisa Burroughes, Communications Director at St Wilfrid's Hospice, Eastbourne
21 August 2013

After years of planning, the new St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Eastbourne is finally complete. Described as a 'building without barriers', Lisa Burroughes, communications director at St Wilfrid's, writes for ehospice about how the design and architecture will support the hospice achieve its vision.

The architecture for the new St Wilfrid’s Hospice has been designed to promote a sense of wellbeing from the moment a person enters. 

The entrance opens up to a high ceiling with glass that allows the light to stream into what is being called ‘The Street’. The street will be home to a café and the space will also play host to many events designed to bring the community into the building. 

What is notable is that there is no reception desk. And that is just one example of how the design of the building underpins the hospice’s philosophy of building without barriers, so that it can change the way the community thinks of a hospice. 

Instead volunteers will act as hosts, welcoming people into the building and guiding them to where they want to go. The idea is based on the same principle of Maggie’s centres architecture, where buildings are considered a source of hope and well being. 

Wellbeing Centre

The Wellbeing Centre, which runs directly off from the street, has a gym, which is visible from the front of the building and will offer a range of therapies and activities including physiotherapy, acupuncture, gardening and cooking lessons for the recently bereaved. There is also a hairdressing salon. 

At the end of the Street is a large glass window looking into a beautiful courtyard, around which the 20 inpatient beds are housed. 

Kara Bishop, Chief Executive of St Wilfrid’s Hospice, said: “The building has been designed to change the way people think about hospices. It’s in the heart of a busy shopping area of Eastbourne which will make it much more visible to everyone in the community, and we want it to become a community resource.” 

Harnessing the community in this way is one of the hospice’s strategic priorities which underpin its vision of a community where people talk openly about dying, live well until the end of their lives and where nobody dies alone, afraid or in pain. 

Making the vision a reality 

Picking up the baton from St Christopher's Anniversary Centre, it will explore new ways in which it can bring the public into the building, by holding weekly choirs, art exhibitions, musical concerts and much more. 

The concept of the building began after a formal needs assessment was carried out in 2009, looking at what the local demand for hospice services was likely to be over the future years. Already unable to meet the full needs of the community, the needs assessment highlighted the growing ageing population in the area and urgent need to expand from 10 to 20 beds. 

Having been careful custodians of some very generous donations made through legacies over the previous 30 years, St Wilfrid’s was in a strong position financially to make its ambitious vision a reality. 

With the building now complete, St Wilfrid’s attention is focused on how it can move staff and patients to the new building while retaining the culture that made the hospice a well loved institution in the local area. 

A very thorough change management process has been adopted with training days that will underpin the culture of the new building. Posters of the change management process will be displayed at the Help the Hospices Conference in October.

You can find out more about the new St Wilfrid's Hospice on their website. 

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