Hospices Oxfordshire Jun 2022

Doug’s Den: a hangout for terminally ill teens at the legendary, world’s first children’s hospice

Historic hospice Helen & Douglas House is the world’s first children’s hospice. They care for terminally ill babies, children and young people up to the age of 18, making every moment count. 

Hearing the unimaginable news that your child has a life-limiting condition can feel like your whole world is falling apart. Helen & Douglas House helps local families cope with the challenges of looking after a baby or child who will die prematurely. They provide round-the-clock care in a warm, loving environment filled with laughter and a peaceful place where families can create lasting memories. It is a special place that feels like a home from home. 

At the most challenging time of their lives, Helen & Douglas House gives families the time and space to enjoy the precious moments they have left with each other. Amid exhaustion and grief, they help families cope with their child’s final days.

The Need

Although Helen & Douglas House hospice cares for children and young people up to 18 years, the hospice lacked an age-appropriate space for teenage patients. They identified the need for an independent space for teenage patients, predominantly wheelchair users, to hang out, play games, or just step away from the main hospice building. A cosy nurturing space, especially for teens, away from the noise of younger kids. It had to be cool, different and definitely not boring!

The hospice approached CRASH to help create a teen space in their garden. Some of the requirements for the teen space were:

  • A quiet, therapeutic and sensitive room with easy wheelchair access.
  • Somewhere to chill out with older siblings or a small group of friends to play video games and hold film nights.
  • The space had to accommodate one-to-one meetings with teens.

The solution

For the teen space, Reds10 provided a modular building which now sits in the grounds of the hospice. The work was completed during COVID, but it couldn’t be used for its intended purpose during the pandemic. Now things are back to normal; the teens are using the space they named Doug’s Den.

How CRASH Corporate Patrons helped?

CRASH Corporate Patrons Arcadis, London Building Control, Masterson Holdings and Reds10 collaborated to create Doug’s Den, a dedicated therapeutic hangout space for teenage patients. Arcadis did the initial project visit with CRASH and produced a report. Masterson Holdings undertook the groundwork, and London Building Control provided building control services.

  • £107,871 worth of donated professional services and building products from CRASH Corporate Patrons.
  • £91,500 of this was from Reds10, who provided and installed the modular unit free of charge.

The social impact

“Having the new space has been incredible. It’s so useful to have a private, teen-friendly space where young people can play games or have a chat. Over the last few months, we’ve had pizza & board games meet-ups and run creative activities like tie-dye and mini raft building from Doug’s Den. The teens love coming in, flopping onto the comfy sofa and asking Alexa to play something. The VR headset has been a real hit with our younger tweens, and the older kids love being able to help themselves to a drink or snack and have asked to have the fridge stocked up with soft drinks!”

Laura

from The Siblings Team at Helen & Douglas House children’s hospice

“The young people seem much more relaxed meeting us in Doug’s Den than they ever did in a sterile meeting room in the hospice. I have taken a young man whose sibling was in for end-of-life care into the den for a chat and to see how he was. I saw a nurse having a conversation with parents about compassionate extubation. It’s also been great having lots for the teens to do in Doug’s Den. If a young person wants to express themselves by getting creative, we’ve got everything to enable them to do so. If they’re not in the mood for talking, they can blow off steam by playing a video game. If they want a chat over a hot chocolate, we can make them comfortable on the sofa and grab one of the fold-out coffee tables whilst we listen. It is lovely to sit in a space that feels age-appropriate in these situations.”

Holly

from The Siblings Team at Helen & Douglas House children’s hospice

“Reds10 were immensely fortunate to be able to donate a modular building to Helen & Douglas House children’s hospice. We visited the site and were moved by the care the staff provide to terminally ill children, young people and their families. Donating to the hospice via CRASH in this way was truly special to us as it allowed us to be hands-on and really feel connected to the work. It is a project we all remember fondly and hope that the children and young people at the hospice, and their families, can enjoy the space for years to come.”

Paul Ruddick

Chairman at Reds10

“Having the new space has been incredible. It’s so useful to have a private, teen-friendly space where young people can play games or have a chat. Over the last few months, we’ve had pizza & board games meet-ups and run creative activities like tie-dye and mini raft building from Doug’s Den. The teens love coming in, flopping onto the comfy sofa and asking Alexa to play something. The VR headset has been a real hit with our younger tweens, and the older kids love being able to help themselves to a drink or snack and have asked to have the fridge stocked up with soft drinks!”

Laura

from The Siblings Team at Helen & Douglas House children’s hospice

“The young people seem much more relaxed meeting us in Doug’s Den than they ever did in a sterile meeting room in the hospice. I have taken a young man whose sibling was in for end-of-life care into the den for a chat and to see how he was. I saw a nurse having a conversation with parents about compassionate extubation. It’s also been great having lots for the teens to do in Doug’s Den. If a young person wants to express themselves by getting creative, we’ve got everything to enable them to do so. If they’re not in the mood for talking, they can blow off steam by playing a video game. If they want a chat over a hot chocolate, we can make them comfortable on the sofa and grab one of the fold-out coffee tables whilst we listen. It is lovely to sit in a space that feels age-appropriate in these situations.”

Holly

from The Siblings Team at Helen & Douglas House children’s hospice

“Reds10 were immensely fortunate to be able to donate a modular building to Helen & Douglas House children’s hospice. We visited the site and were moved by the care the staff provide to terminally ill children, young people and their families. Donating to the hospice via CRASH in this way was truly special to us as it allowed us to be hands-on and really feel connected to the work. It is a project we all remember fondly and hope that the children and young people at the hospice, and their families, can enjoy the space for years to come.”

Paul Ruddick

Chairman at Reds10

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