The Derian House Story of Care and Dedication Continues Unabated

The story of a remarkable charity

The Derian House Story of Care and Dedication Continues Unabated

Wigan Rotary Club has had a long association with Derian House and asked the Community Funding Manager Mick Croskery   to  tell us about the work that they do.  He began   their story by saying “We opened in 1993. We were founded by Miss Margaret Vinten who also opened many a nursing home in the region.  She was approached by a family in Leyland who asked if she could help open a Hospice for Children as at the time there were only 5 in the country.  She fundraised through the years before and in 1993 we finally opened.   Rotary across the area contributed a great deal to getting us off the ground!” 

Therefore, Wigan Rotary is proud   of the work Derian House Children’s Hospice do and continue to support the Charity and been relieved and delighted to hear that all through the lockdown due to Corona Virus the dedicated work that goes on day after day at the hospice is undiminished and the staff undaunted in spite of huge worries on financial issues – just how were they going to manage we wondered? 

This piece is a small insight into how they have survived, [they had to of course!], but so much thought, hard work, understanding the needs of the children, reorganisation at every level and so much more that it makes for a harrowing  yet insightful read!  But do please continue: it’s worth it. 

Derian House Children’s Hospice aim is to provide respite and end-of-life care for children and young people with life-limiting conditions, across Lancashire and South Cumbria.   Their respite breaks give families a chance to re-charge their batteries, or simply spend time together as a family without worrying about the medical side of their child’s care.  When it comes to end-of-life care, their aim is to make this most difficult time a family have to go through the best it can be, whether this is at Derian House or at home.  They explain “We cannot change a diagnosis, but our experienced team of palliative care nurses can offer support, comfort, reassurance, and instil a sense of calm.  We are always on-call, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

Therefore, in March the Government’s advice to avoid mass gatherings such as events like Stars & Cars and Supercar Showtime meant they had to be put on hold.  This was one of the most difficult outcomes to be undertaken and theses immediate cancellations left Derian House Children’s Hospice with a £250,000 black hole in its budget.  The Hospice, which cares for more than 400 seriously ill children and young people from across the North West, was counting on that cash plus the revenue from other events due to be held in the spring and summer 2020. 

However, despite the chaos as the world struggles to cope with the global pandemic, life goes on at the hospice.  Families are still enjoying the sensory room and gardens.  They constantly tackle other types of projects in the messy play zone and create amazing, cherished memories together.  To this end Derian House has vowed it will stay open for end-of-life care for the very sickest children and families are being encouraged to access counselling and bereavement support over the phone.  They  are  having to come up with different and innovative ways of doing things during their plight.

It’s heart-warming to learn that Hospice staff is also lending a hand to colleagues in the NHS to help with increased demand during the outbreak.  Perinatal   Nurse Katie Turner has voluntarily been seconded to Royal Preston Hospital’s neonatal unit to help families in the most need.  She brings her specialist palliative care skills and helps to free up hospital staff for other duties.  David Robinson, Chief Executive Officer at Derian House, added: “I am so proud of all of my staff for the dedication and hard work they are showing in the face of adversity and with the support of our community I’m sure we will be able to cope with this unprecedented event.”

Families from across the North West, supported by Derian House Children’s Hospice in Chorley, have felt the effects of lockdown, with social isolation taking its toll. Many families reporting being left exhausted after months of providing 24/7 care for their child at home with no respite.  Derian House has offered its families a lifeline – finding new ways to connect and also taking pressure off the NHS.  The charity has created a “virtual hospice” with music sessions, wellbeing and support groups all going online. Families have been keeping in touch on a brand new Derian Playtime Facebook page where they share stories and arts and crafts ideas, and the sibling’s group has even set up its own virtual comedy club to tell jokes.

As lockdown continues, the hospice have been gradually opening up in new innovative ways, with families able to visit for picnics in the park and family splash sessions in the hydrotherapy pool, offering a chance to have fun while staying safe.   As an example of how they react Naomi Moazzeny whose four-year-old daughter Riziah, regularly at Derian House playgroup sessions,  told us  “Derian House staff have been incredible during lockdown.  The new playtime Facebook group has been great, always providing us with fantastic craft ideas, stories and baking.  The text messages they send reassure us that they are there at the other end of the phone.  Riziah has said how much she  loves  making new friends”.  Naomi continued  “ the other weekend we were able to visit the Smile Park playground at the hospice.  For the kids this was just incredible as they have not been to a park for many months and for us as parents just watching their little faces filled with so much joy and laughter in a clean and safe environment,  was so wonderful!”   Plus, she added, they had been to the hydrotherapy pool and had so much fun.  For the children, being in the warm pool and their parents not having to worry about them getting too cold and affecting their health, is so beneficial in many ways.  

Wigan Rotary President, Rosemary Charles commented ”We are so pleased to learn that in spite of the challenges and lack of funds, the superb work and support that the Derian House gives families, at the most difficult of times, has continued so well.  The adaptability of all the staff in finding ways in which to continue the care and comfort that this Hospice gives, is inspiring to say the least and it is exactly why we all, at Wigan Rotary Club, are very proud and honoured to support you.”

David Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, said: “These are difficult times for everyone across the world right now and we are working really hard to come up with other ways of supporting our children and families in every eventuality. The message for our supporters is that we’re still here and still supporting families”. He continued “The biggest challenge we are currently facing is the catastrophic effect the forced cancellation of our spring and summer events will have on our income”.

For Derian House to provide these services in 2020 it will cost £4.8m, with less than 10% of this coming from any statutory sources.  The remaining 90% they have to raise themselves through the kind support of members of the public, local businesses and grants, legacies or trusts. The kind support of local Rotarians over the last 27 years of their operation has been invaluable and without it both the Hospice and the children would have found themselves in a much less fortunate position.  Not only does Rotary support them financially but the added awareness they create for them along the way is priceless.  Mick Croskery said “Thank you Rotary for all you do in helping our children and families. There are over 450 families in the North West of England, and we are at the forefront of their   palliative care.”