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Children's end of life care team up for award

A special unit at Poole Hospital dedicated to providing support and care to infants, children and young people with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses has been named a finalist in a prestigious national awards scheme.

Pictured (left to right): Helen Parker, lead paediatric nurse for palliative and end-of-life care, staff nurse Sue Power, paediatrician Dr Martin Hussey, acting matron for paediatric services Karen Fernley and Diane Gulliford (Gully)

Gully’s Place is based on the children’s unit and provides specially trained staff and purpose-designed space, including overnight accommodation for families. The idea is to help to make being in hospital as relaxing and calm as possible at one of the most difficult times a family can face.

The suite is typically used by younger patients requiring planned end of life care, young people who have decided to remain in hospital at the end of life and where the death of an infant, child or young person is either sudden or imminent. There are around 400 such patients at any one time in the county.

Now staff and supporters of the unit – cited as providing ‘outstanding practice’ by inspectors from the CQC earlier this year - are on tenterhooks after being named finalists for a prestigious national award run by the Health Service Journal.

The team is one of just 11shortlisted nationally in the Compassionate Patient Care category, and will find out on Wednesday (23 November) if they have been successful.

The unit is named after Diane Gulliford (known as Gully), whose charitable donation to the hospital in 2009 helped establish the service.

It also offers education and training courses to healthcare staff, and provides a dedicated support group for parents and families who want to talk about their experience of loss, supported by expert staff. Last year also saw the launch of Gully’s Retreat – a beach hut which provides opportunity for families to spend quality time together and generate memory-making opportunities, while Gully’s Place’s services are also now available at Dorset County Hospital.

“It is a fantastic achievement to be a finalist at these awards, which are widely viewed as the Oscars for cutting edge healthcare,” said Karen Fernley, acting matron for paediatric services at Poole Hospital and one of the key figures behind its creation, along with Helen Parker, lead nurse for palliative and end-of-life care.

“As far as we know Gully’s Place is a unique service, and one that is truly built around our younger patients and their families,” said Karen.

“Hospitals are not often arranged to give families the quiet space or privacy needed when an infant or child dies in hospital.

“It is so reassuring to know that whether a child’s death has been sudden or expected, we can offer Gully’s Place as a kind of sanctuary to those patients and their families, offering true choice in end of life care.

“To now be able to offer this at Dorset County Hospital, as well as our ongoing programme of support, education and training, has been a real step-change for end of life care in the county.

“Parents and families are hugely appreciative of what we offer at such an incredibly difficult time.

“We have everything crossed for the ceremony.”

Gully’s Place is supported by a dedicated group of volunteers and fundraisers – Gully’s Place Trust Fund – which raises funds to ensure the valuable work, in and out of hospital, can continue.

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Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Longfleet Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 2JB. Tel: 01202 665511

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