THE HEARTWARMING WORK OF A CHILDREN'S HOSPICE NURSE

A Bournemouth-based paediatric nurse shares a heartwarming insight into her vocational work: How supporting the children and families of Julia’s House hospice is her life-long dream and privilege.



Sarah Phillips, who works full time for the charity-based organisation in Dorset, holds a BSc degree in Paediatric Nursing along with a Degree in Mentorship.

She has been an integral part of Julia’s House for 5 years and explains why the children mean so much to her:


“The children we care for are very special indeed. There is no straightforward solution to their problems. They are children who have long term, serious life-limiting and life-threatening conditions.”

The Julia’s House operation was created in 2003 by founder Michael Wise and named after a paediatric nurse named Julia Perks. Their Dorset hospice is a former house with a warm, homely environment. It serves as a place of safe refuge, relaxation and play for the families they look after.


The majority of care takes place in the homes of the families and is managed between a nursing and support team that currently stands at over 50 staff.


Skilled nurses cover the wide variety of medical interventions required in children with complex conditions affecting their respiratory, neurological and cardiovascular systems.

Some of the conditions are very rare and some are increasingly deteriorating. Others bring about particularly alarming side effects that are hard for children and their families to cope with.


Highly trained therapists help manage the challenging emotional impacts of life-limiting and life-threatening childhood illnesses. Sarah tells me:


“Our children are going through trauma. Some have had multiple surgeries or been in and out of hospital since birth. These situations bring about daily struggles which need to be supported with utmost sensitivity and empathy.”

Child education and stimulation are areas closely nurtured, too. Julia’s House create individual plans which include learning support along with supervised play time and fun interactive activities. A welcome distraction, these plans encourage children to focus on their personal development and enjoyment of play, promoting an improved sense of wellbeing.


Sarah brings attention to the specialist holistic and complimentary care element of their work, which offers practical support and valuable respite time to the families, as well as bereavement counceling.


A typical scenario of complimentary respite care is a team nurse visiting a child at home to care for them whilst their parent or guardian takes a break. This allows them time to do something relaxing and enjoyable for themself such as going to a spa, going out for a meal or simply having a good sleep; safe in the knowledge their child is in good hands.

Such a simple gesture can prove invaluable, making such a huge, positive difference to that family’s day or week.


“It is heart-warming knowing children forget about their problems when we visit them. Playing games, watching them smile and laugh rather than focussing on their conditions; and listening to how much the families appreciate the respite, is all so encouraging.”

Parents, grandparents and other close family members needing a listening ear or shoulder to cry on are welcomed and supported at Julia's House. Fun activities are provided for siblings of poorly children in a friendly environment where they can express themselves and feel comfortable, relaxed and safe.


Sarah, who is a mother of two herself, is very devoted to her work for the hospice and humble in her admission of what her role means to her:


“It’s an absolute privilege working for Julia’s House. Being able to go into vulnerable families’ homes, help them through their ups and downs and share their difficulties. Having their trust really means a lot and there is no other job that is so rewarding. It is a life-long dream to do this.”

Each qualifying Julia’s House family receives 200 funded hours of care per year which is tailored according to their needs. The cost of providing these services rolls well into six figures a year and under 5% of this is funded by the Government.


There is such high demand for the specialist care services that Julia’s House provide and Sarah points out why fundraising is paramount to the work they do in the community:


“The operation of Julia’s House relies almost entirely on donations and unfortunately it’s always challenging to find sponsors. We have over 100 very poorly children on our books who need our support.”

So, who supports Julia’s House?


Firstly, a number of high profile people act as patrons of Julia’s House, including Guy Ritchie, Martin Clunes, Jasper Conran, James McVey, Sarah Ferguson, Eddie Howe, Harry Redknapp, Nigel Havers, Chris Jarvis, Rupert Everett, Annabel Karmel, Jacqui Ainsley and Trudie Styles.


They carry some weight in the media world and do their fair share to help which is fantastic, however the more we can do as individuals to raise awareness the more avenues of funding we can open to help the families receiving care under Julia’s House.


What can we do as individuals to help?


Fund raise… Donate… And share this article.


Take inspiration from our paediatric nurse Sarah, who, outside of her working hours for the hospice is busy training for the Bournemouth Marathon. She will participate in this event on 5th October this year to help raise vital funds for Julia’s House. To read more about Sarah’s fundraising and sponsor her click here.


To find out more about Julia’s House and other ways to support their valuable work in the community please click here to get in touch with them.


With thanks to Sarah Phillips, BSc


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