Celebrating 27 years of caring

As Francis House celebrates its 27th anniversary, David Ireland, Chief Executive explains how the hospice has changed so many lives.

David Ireland Chief Executive of Francis House

Francis House has been providing care for children with life-limiting conditions since 1991. Opened on the 25th November by Diana, Princess of Wales, we were only the fifth children’s hospice to be built in the UK.

Little did I know when I first came to meet Father Mulheran in the mid 1980’s, that coming to Didsbury would transform my life completely. At that time I came as the architect for the expansion of the offices of the Catholic Children’s Rescue Society.

Francis House had not even been thought of, and yet by May 1990, Sister Aloysius had registered a new charity and contractors had been appointed to convert the convent to form Francis House Children’s Hospice.

The hospice exists to provide respite and end of life care for children and young people with life-limiting conditions and is a place of support, friendship and rest for their families. We offer the whole family a loving environment in times of great stress.

The last twenty seven years have seen a significant change in the attitude to paediatric palliative care both in Britain and throughout the world. Francis House has been the forefront of expansion and development of the children’s hospice service.

Sister Aloysius Archbishop and Princess Diana

Sister Aloysius, Archbishop Patrick Kelly, HRH Diana Princess of Wales at the opening of Francis House Children’s Hospice in 1991.

So much has changed not least the life expectancy of some of our young people. Medical interventions and improved methods of care have meant that many of our young people are living longer. In 1996 Francis House cared for one child over the age of sixteen, now more than 120 young adults regularly come through our doors.

The last few years have seen huge steps forward in the way in which we support and care for young adults. Independent Research commissioned by Manchester University into the needs of young adults, informed the building and establishment of Francis Lodge.

The age-appropriate facilities including seven state-of-the-art bedrooms were officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2016.

For the 500 families who use Francis House they live for the moment, and our role is to make every moment count. We help them experience things that provide good memories that will help them in the future.

Throughout our history we have been fortunate in the support that we receive from the people of the North West. We rely on the generosity of the wider community as we continue to expand and develop our services to meet an ever growing need.

Thank you all for the part that you have played in the story of Francis House.


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