Dr Paul Jarvis, Director of Business Development at St Ann’s Hospice in Greater Manchester, tells ehospice about building a new facility during a pandemic.
It’s an understatement to say that it’s a very a strange time at the moment. As the hospice sector strives to continue with ‘business as usual’ – whatever that usual may be – in the middle of a pandemic, it can seem difficult to focus on the bigger picture and longer term goals. As fundraising becomes even harder than ever before, and the clinical landscape and needs of our patients become more complex than ever, we’re all trying to come to terms with the challenging situation that we find ourselves in.
At St Ann’s Hospice we’re working hard, like colleagues in hospices across the UK, to ensure we can continue to meet the changing needs of our patients, whilst trying to innovate with our fundraising and ensure the health and wellbeing of our staff remains a top priority throughout this pandemic. It’s not easy, but, as I’m sure is the case across the UK and, indeed the world, hospice staff and our local communities are rallying around to ensure we can do the very best we can at this unprecedented time.
As we approach our 50th anniversary in 2021, we’re also acutely aware that we need to ensure we are looking ahead too – however challenging the present may seem. As an organisation that’s provided almost half a century of care to patients and their loved ones from across Greater Manchester, we know that as the current guardians of St Ann’s we need to ensure that care can continue for future generations.
Our Heald Green hospice is one of three St Ann’s sites in Greater Manchester, and is our original building which was opened by Her Majesty The Queen Mother in 1971. It’s a building that has been significantly developed over many years, but which now has heavy maintenance schedules, and is in danger of become unfit for future purpose if we do not act.
Whilst the last few months have had significant and difficult challenges for all of us, we have also reached an important milestone in a project that has been in development for many years. An exciting landmark moment in our organisation’s history – the submission of planning for a brand new world-class facility to replace our original building in Heald Green, Stockport.
While some might say we’re mad to even entertain thoughts of such an undertaking in the current climate, we know that we simply have to do so if we’re to continue providing the future care that local people will need.
It’s not something we are taking on lightly. This project is more than a decade in the making. We have worked with experts to carry out multiple feasibility studies, and commissioned research into the future palliative care needs of the population in our region. We’ve developed robust fundraising strategies to ensure we can continue to run our current hospice services whilst also taking on the enormous task of raising the millions of pounds we need for the new building as well.
The building itself will be on land adjacent to our current hospice, remaining on St Ann’s Road North, an important location in our history, and an anchor in our local community too. The building plans are exciting, with a bright, airy feel, highest quality patient accommodation, open, welcoming and flexible work spaces, and a vibrant ‘village street’ which will flow through the development. The protected trees on the land which we initially thought might hinder the design progress, have actually accentuated the natural landscape of the development, and will create a haven for visitors, residents, staff, volunteers, and our local community too by bringing nature inside. We have big ambitions, but are unapologetic about that. We owe it to local people to ensure that future generations can receive the very best levels of care and support.
A huge enabler in getting to this exciting stage of this long-term project has been the tremendous support of colleagues at hospices across the UK. Others who have taken on new builds of their own have been so generous in sharing their stories, their learnings, and their strategies to help inform our thinking. We’re hugely grateful to everyone who has been so supportive.
When I joined the hospice sector I was so impressed with the way in which teams at all levels of our organisations collaborate, share knowledge and best practice, and really try to ensure we are all able to do the very best we can with the resources we have.
This support for each other is continuing apace during the current crisis, and whilst we all know hospice care has changed significantly since we opened our doors almost half a century ago, it’s so reassuring to know that whatever is happening around us, the ethos remains the same.
Our patients and their loved ones are our number one priority, and are at the heart of everything we do. That’s why we are so proud to have reached a milestone in our plans for a new hospice for local people. We know this project will be difficult at times. But, whilst it’s tempting to focus on the here and now, especially when the now is so challenging, we owe it to the families we care for to ensure that future generations of patients can also access the same – and even better – levels of specialist hospice care well into the future too. As the current guardians of St Ann’s, that’s our duty.
For more information visit St Ann’s Hospice