It’s a service that has undoubtedly improved the quality of life for young Lotti Colley.
The four-year-old has been going to Naomi House children’s hospice, near Winchester, for about three years.
The hospice, which opened in 1997, offers respite care for children suffering from life-threatening illnesses, including those from Hampshire.
But 17 years on, the building needs to be updated.
So today, the hospice is launching a £4m Caterpillar Appeal, to raise money and improve the site.
It’s an appeal backed by Lotti’s family – mum Dee, dad Gareth, and sisters Abbi, five and three-year-old Sienna.
Lotti has an undiagnosed genetic disorder, which means she needs round-the-clock care.
She needs a ventilator to help her breathe, is fed through a tube, needs to have regular tablets and injections, and has heart problems.
Dee, 28, of Curlew Path, Southsea, said: ‘Naomi House is such a big help.
‘Lotti needs to have 24-hour care, and when she’s at home, we have carers who help us.
‘We never go to sleep forgetting about her – someone needs to stay awake and watch her sleeping in case there’s a problem.
‘I can’t just say to my mum, “can you look after her for a few hours”, it’s a lot more than that. And that’s why the hospice is so amazing.
‘She has a room there that is equipped with her needs.
‘There are 16 nights in a year that she can stay at the hospice, and it means we can have some respite.
‘Lotti absolutely loves it there – they can look after her properly, she does activities in the hospice, and they take her out for trips.
‘The Caterpillar Appeal is definitely something we back.
‘There is a lot of new equipment there, but not a lot of space.
‘For instance, at the moment the dining room is also an arts and crafts space, so it would be good to have two separate areas for it.
‘And adding more space for families will be brilliant too.
‘I hope people really get behind this and help in any way they can.’
Since it opened, Naomi House has cared for more than 650 families, and currently looks after around 320.
The last major revamp of the site came in 2010, with the creation of Jacksplace.
This is a separate hospice on the same site, which offers care specifically for young people aged 16 and over.
Altogether, Wessex Children’s Hospice Trust – which runs the sites – needs to raise £7m a year for both hospices.
Chairman David Holmes said: ‘When Naomi House opened, it was considered to be one of the UK’s finest facilities for providing respite, emergency and end of life care for children with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses.
‘However, in the last 16 years there have been significant developments in medical technology that have allowed these seriously ill children to develop and grow, and therefore to live longer.
‘This has called for larger and more complicated medical equipment, which our hospice cannot accommodate. For Naomi House to be able to offer the highest possible standard of care, a complete renovation of the entire hospice has become a necessity.
‘We are therefore planning a major redevelopment of Naomi House, with the goal of creating a children’s hospice that central southern England can be truly proud of. This project is the Caterpillar Appeal.
‘It will focus on both the growth of the Naomi House itself as well as the journey that our young guests embark upon when they make their transition through the children’s hospice and on to the care of Jacksplace.’
Plans for the hospice’s development include:
· A new entrance foyer with an interview room for welcoming new families and discussing their needs.
· A complete redesign of the hospice’s interior, including more space being added to each of the bedrooms; new superior equipment, including larger beds, specialist ventilators and piped oxygen; and vastly improved bathroom facilities.’
Other significant changes to the building include:
· A new communal area with dedicated play, music and dining rooms, as well as a new, larger kitchen.
· Improvements to family accommodation areas, including a new lift to allow children in wheelchairs to visit their families.
· Increase in the size of the above rooms and creation of interconnecting rooms, allowing larger families to stay in the hospice.
· A new spiritual area to replace the existing Dovecote – this will include a roof terrace overlooking a quiet area of the Naomi House grounds, which families can use how they wish.
· The inclusion of a training room for the care team.
· The creation of a new emergency care and end-of-life suite that will provide a permanent base to offer vital support to families at times of crisis.
· A new Butterfly Suite: the redesigned bereavement suite will offer services to families after deaths. This will also include the redesign of the remembrance garden.
Mr Holmes added: ‘The estimated cost for the Caterpillar Appeal is £4m; a sum that we need to raise in addition to the £7m that we need each year in order to provide our care services.
‘As we receive less than 20 per cent of our funding directly from the government, we need as much support and assistance from individuals, groups and businesses as possible in order to meet our goal.’
THE aim of the appeal is to focus on the growth of a children’s hospice.
Today, the Wessex Children’s Hospice Trust is launching a £4m Caterpillar Appeal.
The trust wants to make major improvements to Naomi House children’s hospice, which supports children from Hampshire.
Fundraising activities are being planned, with the first one in Portsmouth, taking place on Thursday.
A coffee afternoon is being held at 1000 Lakeside, Western Road, Northarbour, at 4pm.
To find out more about the appeal, and how to fundraise, visit caterpillarappeal.org.uk
ABOUT THE HOSPICE
RATHER than taking money for land rented by a hospice, the landlady asks for a different type of payment.
Mary Cornelius-Reid owns the land on which Naomi House and Jacksplace is built in Sutton Scotney, near Winchester.
Rather than money, Mrs Cornelius-Reid asks for a payment of 12 red roses each year, and that the hospice is named after her daughter Naomi.
The Wessex Children’s Hospice Trust had been struggling to find land to build the hospice on.
But once the lifeline from Mrs Cornelius-Reid was thrown, Naomi House was opened in 1997 by Prince Charles.
The hospice has specially-built rooms to cater for children with suffering from life-threatening illnesses.
The site also includes a hydrotherapy pool, electric games consoles, and a garden.
In addition staff take children on days out to the beach, zoo, and have visits in from entertainers.
In 2010, Jacksplace was opened, as a separate hospice for young people aged 16 and over.
The hospice offers more specialised care for older people, and bedrooms have their own television, games console, DVD player, and internet access, in order to stay in touch with family.
The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton visited the site in April last year.