A theatrical grand opening for Blandford Hospital’s new end of life care unit

14th September 2017

A brand new, state-of-the-art palliative care unit at Blandford Hospital has been officially opened by one of Britain’s most renowned actors, novelists and screenwriters.

Lord Julian Fellowes, accompanied by his wife Lady Emma, cut the ribbon to unveil the modern and spacious £200,000 facility on the first floor of the Tarrant ward ­utilising space from the former Betty Highwood ward, which closed in 2013.

Dorset HealthCare, which runs the hospital, provides specialist care for people with a terminal illness. The new unit provides a quiet, tranquil and warm environment for those entering the final days of their life, ensuring they are comfortable and feel at ease.

It houses two large patient bedrooms with shower and toilet facilities, an activity area and family room with kitchen and ensuite, as well as a small open air garden.

Hospital Matron Darren Wickwar said: “We are really proud of the new unit. We made sure we had input from staff and patients at the design stage and every detail was taken into consideration to ensure it met the highest standards.

“The Friends of Blandford Hospital kindly funded many of the extra’s within the facility including TV’s, art work, furniture and equipment to enhance the area.

“We now have a modern, calming, less clinical environment for patients and their families. We hope it can bring a bit of normality at what can be a very challenging time.

“It is great to have a day room as well, because it means patients can enjoy a variety of activities. We have therapists who regularly attend to spend time with them, whether it be doing a quiz, memory sessions, jigsaw puzzles or simply just chatting over lunch.”

The Fellowes, who hail from West Stafford in Dorset, are both vice-presidents of Weldmar Hospice and well known for their patronage of local charities for the elderly.

Lord Fellowes said: “Dying is a perfectly natural process, but to be able to pass away peacefully in comfortable surroundings with your family is invaluable, and this new facility gives people this opportunity, which is fantastic.

“This ward is really just as important to families as it is the patient. It revolutionises palliative care and means family members can be involved at every stage of their loved ones final hours.

“It is also in a prime location for the community to visit as and when they wish, without having to travel long distances.”