Everything you always wanted to ask…but were afraid to

Many people feel anxious when they hear about a children’s hospice. Some don’t like to ask questions and tend not to realise what an inspiring, positive and fun place it can be!

Of course most people won’t ever need to use a children’s hospice and naturally don’t think about the services it provides, or how it is funded. It’s why we sometimes describe Brian House as the Fylde Coast’s best kept secret – but we don’t believe hospice care is something that should be shut away. We are at the heart of the local community, helping our most fragile youngsters to make the most of every day, and supporting their families every step of the way.

What is Brian House Children’s Hospice?

Brian House provides specialist care for babies, children and young people who have life-threatening or life-limiting illness. We are the only children’s hospice on the Fylde Coast. All the children we care for are local and most come to us through referral from their GP or hospital consultant.

Families with a life-limited child face huge challenges and many simply never know what the next day will bring. Though caring for their child at home is best, respite care given at appropriate intervals gives parents some time for themselves, so they can have a break from the 24 hour demands of caring for a child with multiple complex needs. They can do some of the things other families take for granted and we hope it also gives brothers and sisters the chance to have their parents’ sole attention for a while. Respite care at Brian House gives life-limited youngsters the stimulus of new experiences and new friends as they spend time with other children and our staff and volunteers. It also gives them access to a range of fabulous play and therapy facilities, which they might not have at home.

No, when many people hear the word ‘hospice’ they automatically think of cancer, but the majority of children who attend Brian House do not have a cancer-related illness. Children with many different types of life threatening or life-limiting illnesses come here, and many have more than one complex condition. Some have rare genetic disorders; others have conditions related to very premature birth. There’s really no such thing as a ‘standard’ Brian House child.

During the day we can care for up to eight children, subject to the children’s individual needs. Each night we can accommodate four children for overnight stays. We try and group similar ages together if we can. We are open seven days a week.

No not at all. Some of our children go to local special schools and we encourage them to attend if they are with us for respite care, as long as they are well enough. Many come direct to Brian House for an overnight stay after they finish school for the afternoon. It’s just one way in which we try and make ourselves part of a family’s regular routine.

As well as pre-planned care, Brian House can step in when an unexpected family emergency arises, by helping to accommodate a child during the day and overnight. Parents and carers can talk to Brian House staff at any time for advice or for support. If required, we can provide a range of other services through Trinity Hospice – counselling for parents and siblings at our Linden Centre just across the road, for example.

Yes. We have a lovely self-contained apartment with en-suite facilities and dining kitchen so families can stay with us along with their child, because we know mums and dads want to be close by when their child stays overnight for the first time. As well as being reassuring for parents, it also helps our staff understand how parents would like their child to be looked after, without breaking established routines. If a child is approaching end of life with us, we arrange for families to stay with us for as long as necessary.

Yes we have lots of facilities specifically chosen to enhance the lives of the children we care for. We have multi-sensory equipment to extend a child’s perception in touch, sight and sound. We offer music therapy, eye-gaze computers, a cinema room, crafts, books and lots of opportunities to play outside on specially adapted swings. We arrange days out and sometimes travel together in our specially fitted minibus. We really believe in making the most of every day!

Our team includes skilled nurses specially trained in paediatric palliative care, medical support from a team of doctors, a play worker, music therapist and health care assistants – as well as our wonderful volunteers, who are always on hand with hugs!

You can find us on Low Moor Road in Bispham, near Blackpool. We are part of the Trinity Hospice complex. Remember though, that children from all over the Fylde Coast - from Fleetwood in the north to Freckleton in the south and across to Kirkham and Garstang - come to use our facilities.

The Butterfly Suite at Brian House is a private and peaceful bedroom, lounge and adjoining garden – a space where families can take as much time as they need to say goodbye to their child who has died. The suite is available to all families on the Fylde Coast, even if the child has not used Brian House services previously. Some bereaved families are referred to us by the hospital.

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We have a small Outreach Team who can offer support to some children in their own home or in hospital.

No. There is no charge to families who use Brian House. Funding is an ongoing challenge for us, but we believe access to hospice care should be freely available to all who need it.

Every year it costs £1.2 million to keep our doors open but we receive just under £200,000 a year from the Department of Health, with no funding at all from the local Clinical Commissioning Groups. Brian House is part of Trinity Hospice, and currently the adult hospice subsidises our running costs, because otherwise we would operate at a deficit. Funding is an ongoing challenge and we are constantly looking at new opportunities to generate income, especially as demand for our services is growing.

We are part of the national charity Together for Short Lives and have informal links with other children’s charities such as LifeLites and Make a Wish Foundation, who provide equipment and grants to help youngsters in our care. Families should ask our staff for signposting to other charities, such as those providing holidays for life-limited children – there might be additional help available to them.

There are so many possibilities! You can help us by volunteering, fundraising, donating items to our shops, making a one-off or regular donation, joining our lottery, attending one of our events or just telling others about us and spreading the word about our work.

There are many ways you can make a donation. You can:

  • Donate online by clicking here
  • Donate by card over the phone by calling 01253 952561
  • Send a cheque to Brian House Children’s Hospice, Low Moor Road, Bispham, Blackpool, FY2 0BG
  • Give cash by calling in at our main reception any day between 8.30am-9pm
  • Donate by BACS transfer – please contact our fundraising team on 01253 952561 for our bank details

Opportunities to volunteer in Brian House do sometimes become available. You must be over 18 to volunteer at the hospice, though if you want to volunteer at our Brian House shop you can be younger. Please click here to find out more

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