St John’s Hospice get the go-ahead for a Family Support Centre

Categories: Care and Featured.

St John’s Hospice, Lancaster, has received the go-ahead for plans to build a family support centre for patients and families across north Lancashire, south Lakes and parts of north Yorkshire.

Research carried out by Lancaster University, and feedback from Hospice patients and families, highlighted gaps in local service provision for whole family support pre and post bereavement. Several members of St John’s staff took part in the research so that their valuable experience and expertise with patients and families could directly help pave the way forward.

The building, funded by a generous donation from an anonymous couple,  will provide therapeutic support and counselling for children and young people aged 4 to 16, and their families, who have lost parents, siblings and close relatives. The centre will reduce the need for patients and families to travel far from home, or the family being split between different services for support.

The architect, design and master-planning practice Frank Whittle Partnership (FWP) have designed the new family support centre.

The £750,000 project in the grounds of the hospice has been given the go-ahead by city council planners and work is set to start soon. The aim is for the two-storey building to be completed by the end of the year in order to coincide with the hospice’s 35th anniversary.

The centre’s shape and style has been specifically designed to be attractive to families and young people and the plans have been supported by members of the public, including neighbours, local elected members and MPs.

The new building will include consulting and quiet rooms, breakout spaces, an open space for group activities, mixed-use areas, a kitchen and offices.

Two gardens have also been incorporated in the plans, including a sensory garden providing intimate spaces where visitors can immerse themselves in the scents, textures and colours of plants and related elements.

Along with specially selected plants, elements such as wind chimes, wind socks, flags, and children’s art will be included in the garden design.

Sue McGraw, chief executive, St John’s Hospice said,

“We are delighted to announce that St John’s has the green light to go ahead for this much-needed centre that can be used by community families.

Though there are many fabulous bereavement services that people can access; Lancaster University’s research showed that no local service offers whole family support pre and post bereavement and that is what we will do. 

We have families under our care who have told us how heart breaking it is to be split up for bereavement care and how they wished St John’s could continue to look after their family in this time. It’s understandable because at St John’s our staff spend a lot of time with the patient and their family . For example, whether someone is staying on our ward or our team are nursing someone at home: we meet, spend time with and care for the whole family – the partner, their children and often their grandchildren.

Thanks to this very generous donation, we have the opportunity to make this long-held dream come true – of whole families being supported together in their grief. 

We look forward to working with our community, near and far, to build a kinder future; helping families who are impacted by life-shortening illnesses.” 


Neil Ainsworth, FWP partner, who is architect on the project, said:

“The new centre will deliver improved facilities and space that will allow the hospice to provide a wide range of support services for the community.

We’ve designed a very special building for therapy and play. We’ve used natural lighting wherever possible and have looked to create calm and friendly spaces throughout.

We’re looking to create a homely feel, with strong interplay between the inside and outside spaces.

We believe our bold design will also allow the new centre to stand out and be a beacon of hope that the whole community can be proud of.”

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