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What is Keech Cottage?

Keech Cottage is a new children's hospice that has been built by the Pasque Hospice Charity to care for and support families with a dying child or young person under eighteen years of age in Bedfordshire or Hertfordshire. It opened on 17th March 2000.

Why is it called Keech Cottage?

The Children's Hospice has been named after Dennis and Shirley Keech whose donation of one million pounds began the £3m hospice appeal in April 1998. The appeal target was reached in record time - 20 months! Dennis has lived and worked in Luton for 45 years and is involved in several major businesses in the town.

Why is it needed?

Keech Cottage Children's Hospice offers families respite, terminal and palliative care in an exceptional facility. There are five beds for sick children and sufficient accommodation for five families to stay too.

The children's bedrooms are equipped with overhead tracked hoists, air conditioning and a fully adjustable bed or cot. The tracking extends into the child's bathroom that is fitted with a height adjustable sink and bath. Families are able to use the hospice facilities for four main reasons:

  • Planned respite - caring for a life limited child is hugely demanding and usually involves 24-hour care. To give the families a break from this task and to allow them to remain together as a family, the whole family can come to the hospice for periods of respite. The sick child will be cared for by the staff allowing the family to recharge their batteries and spend quality time together in relaxing and comfortable surroundings.
  • 'Emergency' respite - should the child's main carer become ill or there is a family crisis and there is an urgent need to place the sick child for a short period somewhere where s/he is known and will be cared for to the same standard as at home, then the child can be admitted to the hospice without their family.
  • Palliative/Terminal Care – full, up-to-date specialist palliative care is available including: Pain control (using a wide range of methods), palliative care interventions (including IV and SC drug delivery), seizure control and expert nursing care. Where terminal care is required and the hospice is chosen as the place where the child will die, the family and child can be admitted for as long as necessary during this difficult time. Psycho-social support for the family is an important part of the hospice work.
  • Day Care - for some families it may be appropriate for their child to come and spend the day at the hospice, particularly when they may be too ill for school but the child and family would benefit from the child having a day at the hospice. There are five additional spaces for day care. This is also used by the Community Nursing Team where the family do not wish to have a professional in their home.
  • Bereavement Suite – It is well recognised that families should be given ample time with their child after the death. Keech Cottage has a specially constructed suite that is tastefully decorated and furnished. The bedroom is equipped with a special bed that has a chilled mattress. When placed on the bed, the deceased child has the appearance of being in bed. The chilled mattress keeps the body in good condition. There is an adjacent sitting room for family and friends, a toilet and kitchenette. Children who do not die at the hospice can be brought discretely to this suite if the family wish.

Facilities at the hospice include multi-sensory room, computer room with free, filtered internet access for children and families and links with all the other children's hospices in the UK, soft play area, games room and outdoor play areas with specially adapted play equipment.

There will be a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool and jacuzzi (to be completed by October 2001).

Keech Cottage is staffed by a team of specialist trained children's nurses, nursery nurses, play specialists and experienced carers. Uniquely for a children's hospice, there is a full time Medical Director and 24 hour cover from the medical team for adult and child patients.

What will the Hospice do?

The hospice supports families from when they are given the awful news that their child has an incurable condition, to the time when their child dies and afterwards for as long as necessary, to help them through their grief and the healing process. Sometimes this can take many years. This assistance can be given in the family home or at the Hospice, and is flexible to meet the family's changing needs over the years they are with us.

The Hospice is a source of expertise for the families. They can get expert help and advice twenty-four hours a day from a sensitive team of nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, play therapists, music therapists, social workers and bereavement counsellors who are up to date and understand their specific circumstances.

Families want to provide as much care as they can themselves and keep the number of strangers coming into their home as few as possible. They want their child to have as normal a lifestyle as possible, to enjoy life to the full and to avoid hospital admissions where possible.

Families need information to do this - about their child's condition, what is going to happen as the condition worsens, what will their child's death be like, will they be in pain? And what services and resources are available to help them.

An important part of hospice work is building up a trusting and supportive relationship with the family so that they feel able to approach us for advice and support on any topic. A Keyworker is appointed by the hospice to be the point of contact for the family and to be someone the family can develop a close tie with. There are parent groups and a special club for siblings to meet other children of similar age and in similar circumstances. The Hospice keeps in regular contact with families through telephone calls, cards on special days, letters and visits.

When did it open?

The hospice building was completed on 14th March 2000 and opened to the first families on 17th March 2000. The charity continues to support the families at home in between their hospice stays through the Pasque Children's Community Team.

How much does it cost?

There is no charge to families for the service. Keech Cottage Children's Hospice is supported entirely by charitable donations. It is estimated it will cost nearly £1m per year to run the hospice and we are confident that the communities of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire will not let us down.

How can I help?

The Charity relies enormously on donations and voluntary help and these can be provided in many different ways. We have over 400 volunteers that support us and there are many fundraising activities going on all the time, usually organised and run by our volunteers. There is bound to be a way you can help us - why don't you call the hospice today and find out.