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Looking back over 50 years of loving hospice care

St Barnabas House turned 50 years old on 1 January, 2023. Throughout the year, our community marked #FiftyYearsOfLovingCare by celebrating some of the amazing people who have donated, fundraised, volunteered and worked in the hospice over the past half century.

You’ve been amazing over the past year, helping us make our anniversary special by: sharing your memories, getting involved in our 15th annual Night to Remember midnight walk, and taking part in some fantastic fundraising!

Special moments in our history

When Dr Francis Gusterson launched an appeal to provide residential care for 30 patients with life-limiting illness in Worthing, it was a huge challenge. The community needed to raise £183,107 to build the hospice, which would become one of the first three dedicated end-of-life facilities in Britain.

  • The hospice first opened its doors in Columbia Drive to patients on 1 January 1973 and was officially opened on 18 June 1973.
  • Our very first volunteer co-ordinator was appointed in 1983, supporting 70 volunteers in a number of roles including flower arranging, helping with the tea trolley and library service, and assisting in shops.
  • Our ‘Home Care’ team, which supports people to stay at home, was established in 1984. Now, our Community Palliative Care Team supports over 1,400 people annually and our Hospice at Home Team provides more than 20,000 hours of care every year.
  • The following year the ‘day centre’ was officially opened by HRH Diana, Princess of Wales.
  • Our first charity shop, on Rowlands Road, was officially opened by the Mayor of Worthing in 1989, with several more opening over the years. Today we have 14 St Barnabas House charity shops across the area.
  • In 1992, family rooms were created so that families could stay together in the hospice.
  • Our first Night to Remember event was held in 2008, when 1,000 walkers raised £170,000 in support of the hospice.
  • We launched a public appeal for funding for a new building in 2009, and held the ground breaking ceremony for the new Titnore Lane site in the same year, formally moving into the new building in 2011.
  • In 2018, we welcomed a very special member to our team – our mascot Barnabee!

You can read more about the important moments in St Barnabas House’s history by taking a look at our timeline here.

Image (top left to bottom right: Harry Bunce, Chairman of the house committee with Dr Gusterson, 1972 | Princess Alexandra opening the hospice, 1973 | Queen Elizabeth II making a visit | Archaeological dig at Titnore Lane)

Making this year extra special 

The whole year has been made special by our fundraisers taking on some truly memorable events, 2023 has seen some truly incredible achievements: Tony, at the age of 80, walked the full length of the country. A team of our own nurses abseiled down Arundel Castle. Three intrepid cyclists pedalled 1,300 miles from Canterbury to Rome.

The Heart Awards in July saw 150 of our volunteers come together and celebrate all that they do for the hospice. Last year alone, 1,300 volunteers contributed a total of 80,000 hours, saving the hospices more than £1.3m.

You had the opportunity to remember loved ones at Light up a Life at the Worthing Assembly Hall in December, and virtually at Sunflower Memories in the summer. Collectively, you made dedications to over 1,900 loved ones, remembering those who are no longer with us.

Our community has been instrumental in making our 50th year something special. Volunteers, friends groups, individuals and local businesses have contributed their time, energy and resources, and we couldn’t be more grateful.

New services launched

This year also saw us launch a new Frailty Programme as part of our Living Well service, offering a six week programme for anyone living with frailty in the area.

It’s already making a huge difference to our patients’ lives. Joy signed up after reading about the programme in a local paper, and says she enjoyed visiting the hospice to gain helpful tips and advice on managing the challenges she’s facing with ageing and reduced mobility.

Joy said: “Mentally, I feel so much better after just six weeks of the Wellbeing Programme. I am more confident, and I’ve just got a bit more zest for life!”

Image (left to right): Tony at Land’s End | Our abseiling nurses | Patron Sally Gunnell and volunteer Stuart at the Heart Awards

Marking this special year

We marked our 50th anniversary on 29 November, 2023, by placing a special time capsule in our hospice courtyard garden. Photos and written memories were collected to put in a silver time capsule tube, which was put in the ground next to a special dedication plaque. Trustees and other members of the hospice community were present at the ceremony, including three long-serving members of staff – who have worked at St Barnabas House for 70 years between them!

Image: Mike, our Chair of Trustees, burying the time capsule

Looking ahead

Today, we work to ensure that adults with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones can enjoy life as fully as possible, for the time they have left together. Specialist care is provided in people’s own homes across the area, as well as in the hospice building in Worthing.

And, when the time comes, we’re there to support people at the end of their life so that they can die with dignity in a warm and caring environment.

We are working hard to ensure that our expertise can reach everyone who needs it over the next 50 years and beyond – developing our services so that our community is better equipped to help those facing the end of their life.

A lot has changed since St Barnabas House first opened its doors 50 years ago. In our very first two weeks, we cared for nine patients. Today, the hospice currently plays a part in supporting the care of around a quarter of our local population in the Worthing, Adur, Arun and Henfield areas that die each year. We are committed to ensuring that our expertise can reach everyone who needs it over the next 50 years and beyond, and our new care strategy describes how we intend to do this.

The next five years

We’ll be developing our services and teams over the coming five years and working in partnership with others to improve end-of-life and palliative care for our local community.

Our plans are centred around our ‘Model of Care’, which rests on four service ‘pillars’: Community Care, In-Patient Care, Living Well, and Care 2 Care.

  • The IPU will continue to be available for patients with more specialist palliative care needs,
  • As we move forward, we’ll also be expanding our Community Palliative Care and Hospice at Home service.
  • Our Living Well service will continue to reach patients who need that support.
  • We’re also working on Care 2 Care, which will see us working collaboratively with GP, community, and secondary care providers in our area.

However, it costs nearly £10 million every year to provide hospice care for local people, with only 22% of this coming from government funding.  It’s thanks to the generosity of the local community that all of this is possible.

There’s lots of ways you can support hospice care in your local community, here’s a few ideas:

  • Play the lottery: from just £1 a week you could in with a chance of winning £1000!
  • Come to Night to Remember: Our much loved midnight walk is back, your opportunity to remember your loved ones.
  • Volunteer your time: Our volunteers offer invaluable time and knowledge, and make a huge difference. You can make a big difference to your local community!
  • Put on a fundraising event – If you’re planning a bake sale or something bigger, there’s lots of resources to help you get started.

Make a difference to local lives

Two nurses holding a large heart with our 50th year logo