'Staffing crisis' impacts hospice's end of life care service

Richard House Children's Hospice in Beckton.

Richard House Children's Hospice in Beckton. - Credit: Richard House

A charity has revealed it is unable to deliver end of life care for families in need.

Richard House Children's Hospice, based in Beckton, said it has had to refuse cases because what it called a "staffing crisis".

The charity's services are used by children with life-limiting illnesses and their families from Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Camden and parts of Essex.

But it says it struggled to maintain nursing numbers during the Covid pandemic began and this has continued since.

Director of care Scott O’Brien said: “Simply put, not enough staff means we cannot serve our community in the way they deserve.

"At Richard House we pride ourselves on being a lifeline to families at some of the worst moments of their life.

"The current staffing shortage means that we’re having to deny help to those who are in a crisis and desperately need us."

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The hospice said it has seen a 155 per cent rise in the number of families wanting to use its Hospice at Home service since 2020.

This provision gives families a short break from their caring responsibilities and allows the option for a child to die at home.

According to the charity, it lacks the resources for recruitment and retention of staff compared to hospitals.

Scott added: “At Richard House, care staff have the opportunity to change the lives of children and their families in a way that is not possible in large hospital settings, where patient turnover is high, due to pressure on beds.

"We work with the same families for many years and our family centred care means more quality time with children to help them to develop and enable them to reach their potential."

The charity relies on donors for its work, with the cost of its services this year being £4.2million.

Last October, it was reported that Richard House was facing a £500,000 shortfall due to the impact of the pandemic.

This included the closure of charity shops and the postponement of events and other fundraising activities.