Community Engagement Consultation
Derwentside Hospice Care Foundation was set up in 1989 and enabled Willow Burn, the first of its kind in County Durham, to create a Hospice facility from a converted ward at Maiden Law Hospital. With a £160,000 grant from the Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund it opened its doors in February 1990 and at the time was staffed by North West Durham Health Authority and a host of volunteers. It was shortly followed by the opening of the inpatient facility officially opened by the Marchioness of Zetland, president of the Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund just over a year later (May 1991) and the unit at the time was described as giving cancer patients living at home the chance for a short stay, whether for treatment, observation or just a short rest. Willow Burn continues to deliver day hospice, inpatient and a variety of other treatments to patients from the Derwentside and North West Durham Community. Services offered focus on individual need and what they express as important to them. Hospice palliative care aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of living and dying. Willow Burn strives to help patients and families address physical, psychological, social, spiritual and practical issues, and their associated expectations, needs, hopes and fears. Helping patients and their relatives cope with loss and grief during the illness and following bereavement is also an integral part of services offered.
Willow Burn aims to treat all active issues, prevent new issues from occurring and to promote opportunities for meaningful and valuable experiences, personal and spiritual growth, and self-actualisation. Hospice palliative care is appropriate for any patient and/or family living with, or at risk of developing, a life-limiting illness due to any diagnosis, with any prognosis, regardless of age, and at any time they have unmet expectations and/or needs, and are prepared to accept care. Hospice palliative care may also complement and enhance other treatments or become the total focus of care.
Over the years Willow Burn has supported thousands of individuals with cancer and more recently has opened its doors to individuals with a range of life limiting illnesses which will be expanded upon in the new facility. Whilst facilities remain fit for purpose the range of palliative care treatments and services is expanding and the facility is quickly being outgrown. Although the physical environment of the Maiden Law Hospital site is in decline the patients have benefited from the fabulous views and the outdoor spaces which brings with it both peace and tranquillity to the patients and relatives who attend Willow Burn. Willow Burn intends to build into its plans restorative gardens with quiet areas for reflection and contemplation and where special events can be hosted.
Willow Burn once set the precedent for Hospice palliative care into County Durham and plans are now developing to build upon these foundations thus ensuring services are sustained in suitable and accessible facilities for the Derwentside Community for generations to come.
Although the local area has endured years of decline the community has established very strong links with the Willow Burn. The support received from the community served by Willow Burn has always been incredible and the amount of funds raised over the years is truly staggering.