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What to expect when visiting a children’s hospice

What do you think of when you hear the word hospice? People often tell us that they expect a hospice to be a dark, scary, and sad place, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. However, visiting a hospice can be daunting, no matter what your reason for visiting is.

Whether you’re coming to the hospice for the first time for a stay and play session, meeting a member of our Care Team, or for your first volunteering experience, it’s okay to feel apprehensive. We want you to know what to expect when visiting Chestnut Tree House, so that hopefully you won’t worry.

It’s not like a hospital

When people visit the hospice, they often expect it to be just like a hospital ward, but it really isn’t. Families access hospice care for so many reasons, from activity days or counselling, to specialist short breaks. Respite provision is our main use of beds and providing end of life care is a small part of what we do.

It’s important to know that not all hospice care happens at the hospice. We also provide hands on care in families’ own homes across East Sussex, West Sussex and South East Hampshire.

“I don’t know what I was expecting, but the moment we walked through the doors we were amazed. We could not believe how much care and love was there. It was fantastic. It was a huge eye-opener; we could see all the opportunities there. And for us, it was the first time we could sit down and relax for a very long time,” says a Chestnut family.

It’s for the whole family

There are many challenges in caring for a child with a life-shortening or life-threatening condition, and our team are there to offer support for the whole family, including parents, grandparents and siblings.

One of the ways we support siblings is by running special activity days allowing siblings to meet other children and teenagers who are going through the same thing. These days aim to provide fun, respite and give children a break from their siblings.

We also hold family events and activities, such as sensory shows and themed fun days, this gives the whole family a chance to spend precious time together and make magical memories.

“We have met a lot of parents and that is something special to us. It means that we can speak to people in similar situations. Some of them have sadly been through bereavement, it’s shown us the other side of care that Chestnut Tree House offers. We have seen the way that they look after the child, their parents, and their whole family. They are amazing. I can’t praise them enough,” says a Chestnut family.

It’s not all dark and gloomy

It’s rare to walk through Chestnut Tree House and not see a smile or experience something special. Inevitably, there are sad moments at a hospice, but the team work tirelessly to ensure that children and families enjoy their time and make as many memories as possible.

“You hear the word ‘hospice’ and you get frightened; you think of a sad and gloomy hospital setting. But when we first visited Chestnut Tree House, it instantly felt like a home away from home, it was amazing.”

Walking through the House you will see that it is bright, full of toys, activities, and pictures. The best way to show you this is through our virtual tour. This video will give you an idea of what the House looks like and the different rooms available to children and families.

It’s not a depressing place

From our maintenance and gardening teams, to catering, fundraising, counsellors and nurses, everyone at the hospice is proud of what they do daily. Staff really enjoy working at Chestnut Tree House and feel privileged to care for the special children and families that they meet. We are really proud of the team we have built, and you’re bound to see countless smiling faces on your visit.

What's it like working at a Children's hospice

Surrounded by nature

The gardens are an important part of Chestnut Tree House – a place where children, f­­­amilies, and staff can go to relax and reflect. Our beautiful grounds and gardens provide a chance to play and have fun in the fresh air, and our Woodland Walk is a wheelchair-accessible sensory experience for children and families – children love hunting for creepy crawlies here! We also have a Meadow Garden, which is a tranquil space for remembrance and reflection.

All children’s bedrooms look out onto the gardens, which are easily accessible – we can even take beds outside.

Before visiting the hospice

Please make sure you look at our COVID-19 guidance. We are doing everything we can to limit the risk to children, families, and staff. Please respect the visiting guidance and support us in trying to keep everyone safe.

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