Greening the Estate: Working towards a greener Hospice

Categories: Care, Leadership, and Policy.
Ultimately, people who live sustainably will want to die sustainably, so by not addressing these issues, there is the potential to create a barrier to our care. Now more than ever, the pressure on charities to demonstrate that they are making a positive impact on society is growing.

Considerations around the environment and sustainability becoming more important to all our stakeholders: NHS commissioners and funders, staff, volunteers, supporters and patients.

Growing understanding across our organisation that having regard for environmental sustainability could help us to achieve our charitable objectives. Last year, we introduced you to the Green Team, established by a group of Dorothy House staff members to help develop policies and best practice, and to champion environmental change across our workforce.

Firefly Woods at dusk

Sustainability is incredibly important to us at Dorothy House, and over the last year we have worked to promote this in a number of different ways, whether it’s through our Sustainable September campaign or with the introduction of our patient property bags, designed by Kate Bond. In addition, we have been looking at ways to make our Fundraising events more sustainable, such as giving participants the option to re-use t-shirts from past events and providing downloadable resource packs as an alternative to physical ones.

But what about here at Winsley House?

Many people in our community are probably unaware of our ongoing work to make Dorothy House a greener place, so today we wanted to share some of the ways in which we’re doing so.

Greening our energy

Currently, we have 18 solar panels installed at Winsley, generating around 18% of our electricity, some of which contributes to the power of our Fireflies – nestled in the woodlands . Installed in 2016, the current life expectancy of the panels is 2030. Our in-house teams carry out regular maintenance to ensure they are operating efficiently, and we are provided with regular performance updates In more recent years, sustainability has also been made a key priority when it comes renewing our gas and energy suppliers.

Lighting is another focus to conserve energy at Winsley House, with motion sensors operating on the lights in public corridors and outdoor spaces to avoid unnecessary usage. In addition, LED bulbs have been installed for cost-efficiency and sustainability. Part of the work of the Green Team involves recruiting champions within teams to ensure that smaller measures – such as switching off lights when leaving offices – are upheld.

The lodges, often used for consultations or counselling sessions, operate on timers which are usage controlled, allowing them to be heated in good time so that they are comfortable before being used.

Water consumption

One project that’s currently underway at Winsley House – thanks to the work of the Green Team – is the addition of water butts. Led by our head gardener, Rob, over the coming months we will see these being installed on various buildings across the site. The rainwater harvested from the water butts will be used to keep the grounds looking beautiful all year round.

Electrical meters are currently in place at Winsley House to monitor water usage and there are plans for similar measures across our 25 charity shops. In addition, the Consumption Dashboard enables the Estate Team to closely monitor and report on usage.

What a load of rubbish!

Reducing waste at Winsley House is another area of focus. An ongoing review of contracts means we are continually assessing and improving our recycling of cardboard, paper and plastic in public spaces and offices. Compost bins are also available for tea bags and coffee grounds, which are then used to enrich the soil within the grounds.

Since the easing of Covid restrictions, and additional measures adopted for increased infection control there are plans in place to reduce waste in our communal kitchen areas.

Many will be under the assumption there is little that can be done in terms of clinical waste, however we are taking measures here too, such as introducing recycling bins for pill packaging.

In a growing digital age, there are also measures taken to ensure our technology remains sustainable. Through economical upgrading of equipment at Winsley House, we are able to extend the life span of kit that would otherwise be coming to the end of its lifespan, reducing costs and waste. Once devices do reach end life and are no longer appropriate for enterprise use, it is either sold, donated or recycled via one of our disposal partners.

Christmas trees

Of course, we can’t talk about sustainability without addressing one of our most popular fundraising initiatives – our annual Christmas tree collection, which we run in partnership with Just Helping. 2023 was our seventh year of running the event, which raised an incredible £75,000 to fund patient care.

Christmas Tree Collection 2023

Chippings used from the collection are used around the grounds of Winsley House, to maintain pathways, mulch flower beds and keep overgrowth at bay in Firefly Woods, Any excess is offered to our community. Earlier this year, Lackham Agriculture College students were taught how to use chippers to chip trees, with the woodchip being used on their campus, and we offered chippings to our friends at Hartley Farm, who have frequently supported us in adverse weather conditions over the years.

What else?

One key achievement of the work of the Green Team is the switch to a ‘greener’ pension fund for all staff, which happened earlier this year as another way of helping Dorothy House become as sustainable as possible. There’s plenty more going on behind the scenes too, including discussions of electric car-charging points and the use of e-bikes for staff, so watch this space!



This article is republished from Dorothy House Hospice Website with permission. This is the first of a series of three articles from Dorothy House about environmental matters.


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