Leeds hospice’s hi-tech den improves teenagers’ social lives

Young people in the "den" at Martin House Children's Hospice
Young people in the "den" at Martin House Children's Hospice
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A £300,000 project to transform a hospice room has created an in-house cinema and mini nightclub for young people with life-limiting conditions.

The revamped “den” at Martin House Children’s Hospice in Boston Spa now boasts a host of state-of-the-art equipment used in some of the world’s most luxurious homes.

Bespoke controls give them the independence to select their own films, games, music, volume and lighting – rather than having to ask a parent or carer to do it for them.

Twice as many wheelchair-users can now use it, enabling them to enjoy a more social experience. And for teenagers who are too ill to visit the cinema or clubs, the improvements are life-changing.

Carol Devine, marketing and communications co-ordinator, said: “There’s very little some of these young people can do for themselves but thanks to this project they can now.”

She added: “It’s all about being independent. These young adults need putting to bed and they might have to be put to bed at 6pm or 7pm at home – because it takes a couple of hours – when really they don’t want to go to bed until 2am or 3am.

“Because we are staffed 24-hours we can make sure they have that fun into the early hours. We give them the opportunity to sit up if they want to and watch a film.”

Service users can choose films and programmes using an iPad or bespoke joystick controller, as well as closing the blackout blinds and adjusting the lighting or setting “disco mode” – triggering the room lights and illuminated dance floor.

The project was part-funded by an NHS England grant of £223,000, plus cash from Ed De Nunzio Charitable Trust, Variety, Jimbo’s Fund, Simply Health and Towers Watson, Leeds.

The den is part of Whitby Lodge, the hospice’s six-bedroom teenage unit.

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