Tuesday, 23 October 2018
SUE Ryder is planning to sell its hospice in Nettlebed in order to expand and care for more people.
The charity is to leave Joyce Grove after more than 35 years and open a new community hub as its base in South Oxfordshire.
It comes just over three years after it turned down an opportunity to move to the new Townlands Memorial Hospital complex in Henley.
The changes will begin in April and will include the introduction of a “hospice at home” service, incorporating the existing specialist nurses, which will provide planned and rapid response care to patients in the community 24 hours a day.
A Sue Ryder team will also help deliver a single point of access care service for end-of-life patients in conjunction with the 111 urgent care service.
These services will be run from the hospice as a pilot scheme and the charity will be seeking to move the 12 in-patient beds to other locations and then sell the building.
The news was broken to staff last week in a presentation at Joyce Grove by Holly Spiers, the charity’s director of hospices and fund-raising.
In a follow-up letter, which was also sent to some volunteers, she said: “Change can be disconcerting but we believe that this pilot service model provides us with a great opportunity to respond to the way that people want and can access end-of-life care. More importantly, we can expand the reach of the outstanding care provided at Nettlebed to more people.
“I want to emphasise that we need the support from all colleagues and volunteers at Nettlebed to help ensure the success of the pilot.”
The hospice had been due to move into a new purpose-built 12-bed facility on the second floor of Townlands Memorial Hospital to form part of a £16 million “health campus”.
But in December 2014, before construction had begun, the charity pulled out of the agreement with the NHS as it would have needed another property for its other services and outpatients. Three years before, the charity’s then chief executive Paul Woodward said the facilities at Joyce Grove, which is listed, were becoming out of date.
He said: “While our Nettlebed building is undoubtedly beautiful and much-loved by patients and the local community, it is extremely expensive to maintain. It is also isolated, particularly in bad weather.”
Paul Martin, Sue Ryder’s national PR manager, said: “It was always made clear the current situation is not appropriate for the care we provide.
“In the next couple of years we are going to increase the hospices-at-home service as that is what people want. As with any care provider, we have got to keep on top of what the community needs.”
He said the new community base would replace Joyce Grove but the charity didn’t yet know whether this would be a new-build or an existing building and hadn’t chosen a
location. Mr Martin added: “We are not leaving tomorrow. We are talking 18 months to two years.
“People will be cared for at Nettlebed until an alternative is found that is right for us and right for people locally.”
Joyce Grove, a Grade II listed building with 27 acres of grounds, was built in 1908 for merchant banker Robert Fleming, grandfather of James Bond author Ian Fleming, by architect Charles Mallows.
It was expanded in 1913 following a fire.
In 1938 the building was donated by Mr Fleming’s nephew Peter to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington to use as a convalescent home. In 1979 it was taken over by Lady Ryder before becoming a hospice
In 2015, Sue Ryder applied for planning permission to convert Joyce Grove into 20 apartments.
The then hospice director Stewart Marks said: “We need to look at what is best for Sue Ryder, both in terms of providing care but also protecting our assets.
As such, we have submitted this application to assess the potential value of our property. We would be remiss in our commitment to care if we did not look at all angles and make the best decision based on all information available.”
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