Hospice extension handover

Builders Paragon Construction handing over the first phase of the newly-refurbished in-patient unit at Willowbrook Hospice
Builders Paragon Construction handing over the first phase of the newly-refurbished in-patient unit at Willowbrook Hospice

Willowbrook Hospice’s new in-patient area has moved a big step closer to opening with the end of phase one of construction work.

Contractors Paragon Construction recently handed over phase one of the new build, which includes two more bedrooms with French windows for outdoor access, to hospice staff.

The ambitious £663,000 capital grants project also includes landscaping the gardens outside the new rooms, refurbishing the diner and creating a new lounge and laundry room as well as building an outside dining area for patients, relatives and carers.

The work, which is now set to be completed just before Christmas, will leave Willowbrook with one double bedroom and eight single rooms, which chief executive Neil Wright says will help it meet the increasing demands for its services in the area.

Mr Wright said: “We have very high demand from people needing to come into the hospice, but as demand is increasing it’s not just about building bedrooms, we have to improve all the other facilities and areas too.

“We’ve also got Olivia Kirk, who’s won gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, to design a new garden in an overgrown area and it’s looking great.

“It’s been a hard project because of the complexity of the refurbishment, but following the handover everybody is delighted with the look and feel of the new facilities.”

Mr Wright said one of the main aims of the refurbishment was to provide more private rooms for individual patients, replacing the previous arrangement which had five patients cared for in two bedrooms.

Willowbrook hopes to increase its in-patient unit capacity to 12 beds in the future if it can raise enough money for the extra doctors and nursing support.

The hospice has now embarked on the final phase of the current extension work, which includes interior decorating such as replacing carpets which Mr Wright said staff have been hoping to change for some time.

However, Mr Wright also said the completion of the current refurbishment, which was first announced in March 2013, will only be the latest part of a series of continuous improvements at Willowbrook.

He said: “The work never stops. As soon as we have finished this improvement we will start looking at other projects which will enable us to support even more local people.

An official opening ceremony for the new in-patient area is expected to take place after Christmas.

St Helens Reporter readers are also doing their part for the new development by donating loose change to Willowbrook as part of the Jam Jar Army campaign, which hopes to raise £10,000 for a new member of staff who will work in the newly-extended in-patient unit.

Mr Wright said: “The Jam Jar Army is absolutely fantastic. Without the support of local people we couldn’t deliver this special care. The campaign enables us to take on the extra staff for the increased beds.”