Our history

40 years of care

Our existence is thanks to a local group of passionate people who supported the ideas and approach of the hospice movement. The theory of prioritising the things that really matter in life and placing humanity above institutional procedure still lie at the heart of the work we do today.

Please use this timeline to find out more about the unique journey of Saint Francis Hospice.

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1975 - 1978

Though in its infancy, the hospice movement was transforming end of life care, and it was suggested at a local health meeting that we should be providing a similar service in our area - the motion was agreed and a working party was formed. Thanks to tireless fundraising from a team of dedicated volunteers, the Hall was purchased in 1978.

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1978 - 1982

Ground that sat round the Hall was also acquired, and the Saint Francis Hospice Council of Management were established, where developments and next steps were discussed. Shortly after followed a business management team, medical management team and fundraising committee.

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1985 - 1994

In April 1985, work began on a home care service, with the pay for two nurses funded by a Trust. There was a big demand for their work - with 28 visits made in the first month alone. An occupational therapy service was introduced that same year, and the bereavement service began in 1986. While a day service was introduced in 1988, building work began on a dedicated facility, which opened in 1993.

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1982 - 1984

With the hospice roof completed by May 1983, only the interior was left to complete. The next challenge was purchasing equipment - beds, linen, baths, sofas - and it was thanks to a supporter with previous experience of procurement in the NHS that these were all secured for the lowest prices possible. On 6th January 1984, the keys were handed to the Council of Management, and the first patient, Mr George Smith from Writtle, was admitted.

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1995 - 2003

With demand for community nursing ever increasing, fundraising began for the Hospice at Home team in 2000. The aim was to provide nurses dedicated to caring for people in the last few days of their lives, with the aim of allowing them to remain in their homes. By 2001, running costs were at £3.5m, and plans were put in place to expand the site. A dedicated in-house fundraising team were introduced in 2002, to maximise income possibilities, with volunteers struggling to find the time required.

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2003 - 2009

Following a number of changes to the board of directors, plans were set in motion for the creation of the Education Centre in 2005. The lion's share of the funds required were provided by local benefactor, Elsie Pepperell. By 2008 the centre was completed, offering the hospice's palliative care experts the opportunity to provide training to medical teams across the country. The day therapy unit and the inpatient unit saw a refurbishment in 2009, thanks to a one-off grant.

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2010 - Present

Another grant allowed for a refurbishment of the bathrooms, followed by a further grant in 2013 which saw the bereaved relatives' room, mortuary and medication store rooms updated. In 2014, the new, 24/7, 365 days a year, Specialist Crisis and Community Support team was launched, to enhance the support we provide patients, their families and carers and health and social care professionals.

Caron and Ann 7

Meet the team

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Look around the Hospice