A major project to completely transform a vital hydrotherapy pool and turn it into a magical multi-sensory facility for children with life limiting and life threatening conditions has officially begun.

The hydrotherapy pool at Acorns Children’s Hospice for the Three Counties, which received the royal seal of approval after it opened in 2005, is being given the six-figure upgrade to totally renovate the facility.

Alongside a brand-new pool and changing rooms, a sparkling hi-tech lighting system and ambient surround sound speakers will enhance hydrotherapy sessions, which are an essential service provided by the Worcester-based hospice.

The improvements have been made possible thanks to a £205,297 grant from the Kildare Trust and will benefit around 230 children who receive care at the Bath Road hospice every year.

Becky Hughes, Matron at Acorns for the Three Counties, said: “This exciting project will completely transform what is such an important space for children and families. Hydrotherapy actively reduces pain and gives children at Acorns a sense of movement that they wouldn’t otherwise enjoy without the freedom that water allows.

Work begins on the new pool
Workers on site as the new pool is created

An incredible project

“Our hydrotherapy pool is so well loved and used by families who rely on our lifeline care and support. Not only does it enable us to provide vital hydrotherapy sessions but also allows us to offer family splashes, giving them precious time together to provide magical memories which wouldn’t be possible for a child with complex care needs in a public pool.

“The incredible project would not be possible without the generous support of the Kildare Trust. Words can’t explain how grateful we are. The impact will be felt for years to come, and will touch the lives of hundreds of families.”

Hydrotherapy not only helps with pain relief and symptom management but can also help a child to develop their play and communication skills.

The pool helps children to be as active as possible, both physically and emotionally, and helps to create happy memories for them and their families.

The Kildare Trust, which was endowed by the late Phyllis Richards, a Worcester farmer who died in 2021 aged 100 years old, provides financial support to charities across Worcestershire and has funded the entire project.

Ian Smith, Chair of the Kildare Trust, said: “The Kildare Trust has supported the wonderful work Acorns hospice in Worcester does for a number of years. When we heard that the swimming pool was desperately in need of a major refurbishment, we wanted to help.

“On a visit to see the pool and hear about the exciting plans, we were introduced to a foster mother who explained what a massive positive impact the pool and the staff who provide the therapy has on her severely disabled son. We are delighted to have been able to fund the entire project.”

Acorns Children’s Hospice provides specialist palliative care for children and young people with life limiting and life threatening conditions and support for their families.

In the past year, the charity has cared for more than 730 children across Birmingham and the wider West Midlands, and almost 1,000 families, including those who are bereaved.

Acorns needs around £30,000 each day to provide its children’s hospice care, with two thirds of that amount coming from generous grants from charities like the Kildare Trust.

Find out how you can help Acorns be stronger together for local children and families by visiting our Stronger Together campaign.

Catherine Smith, Jamie Wyton and Nickie Ford smile for a photo

Proud of everything the apprentices have achieved

The Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund was created by the WMCA to cover training costs for more apprentices in the region, through large employers donating a portion of their unspent apprenticeship levy to smaller companies.

The Fund keeps levy money within the West Midlands region by enabling the WMCA to partner large organisations with local smaller companies. This means the large employers donate a portion of their unspent apprenticeship levy funds to the smaller businesses, covering 100% of their apprenticeship training and assessment costs.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the WMCA, said: “This £45,000 boost – made possible thanks to the WMCA Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund – highlights our commitment to upskilling and supporting healthcare professionals.

“This initiative empowers participants to progress to nurse level in professional terms while delivering essential care to local life-limited children.

Nickie Ford, Trainee Nurse Associate

“By nurturing talent in this way, we’re ensuring fantastic care is provided to the children and families who rely on Acorns.”

Jamie Wyton, Clinical Practice Educator

Ensuring fantastic care is provided

“By nurturing talent in this way, we’re ensuring fantastic care is provided to the children and families who rely on Acorns.”

So far, more than £46 million has been contributed as a result of large organisations joining the WMCA partnership, boosting skills and productivity by supporting more young people and adults of all ages into work.

The scheme created approximately 3,500 new apprenticeships at 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses across the region.

Acorns Children’s Hospice provides specialist palliative care for children and young people with life limiting and life threatening conditions and support for their families.

In the past year, the charity has cared for more than 700 children and almost 1,000 families, including those who are bereaved.

Acorns needs around £27,000 each day to provide its children’s hospice care, with two thirds of that amount coming from generous donations and fundraising by the local community.

For more information or for interview, photograph or filming opportunities, contact the PR and Communications team at news@acorns.org.uk.

Notes to editors:

Due to the sensitive nature of Acorns care services it refrains from using the words ‘terminal’ or ‘terminally ill’ in its press releases and public communications when describing the children who use Acorns and the conditions that they have. Instead, Acorns uses the words ‘life limited’, ‘life limiting’, or ‘life threatening’. Acorns kindly requests that you respect this in your communications when referring to Acorns Children’s Hospice. Acorns children have a lot of living to do. Thank you.

State-of-the-art ‘ceiling technology’ at a Walsall children’s hospice is making a difference thanks to a generous local company.

Ten digital screens have been donated by Telford-based Camelott Digital Solutions and installed at Acorns in the Black Country, Walsall, giving children access to stimulation and entertainment in a way not previously possible.

 

A whole new world

With many of the hundreds of children Acorns cares for each year having complex clinical needs and limited movement, the screens are much more accessible in comparison to ‘standard’ screens.

Whether it’s watching films, playing computer games or even experiencing interactive multisensory visuals, the screens open up a whole new world for children and can be tailored to the individual needs and preferences of each child.

Vicki Rowles, Director of Fundraising at Acorns, said: “We are so grateful to Camelott Digital Solutions for the donation of these fantastic screens. The technology is wonderful and allows the children we care for to access a range of amazing interactive and multisensory features.

“At Acorns we work hard to make our hospices the special places they are, where children can take part in all the things children love to do, regardless of ability. These screens are a brilliant addition to our hospice and one that will really enhance the experience of the children who visit.”

The Black Country hospice has recently undergone a £2 million refurbishment, transforming the much-loved facility for the children and their families that use it every year.

The screens are a key part of the refurb work which has included completely modernised bedrooms, corridors, reception and dining room.

Local companies working together

John Ellis, Commercial Director at Camelott, said: “When we heard Acorns was looking for something like this we were only too pleased to be able to help. We supplied eight screens as well as two interactive screens incorporated into tables on wheels, and we hope they really make a difference to these children’s lives.”

Camelott was introduced to Acorns by Ian Bradley of Bion Electrical, a Wombourne-based company working with Acorns on the hospice refurbishment.

Mr Bradley said: “We knew Acorns were looking at these screens and we put them in touch with John at Camelott who came up with a package that gave a big cost saving. We are glad we were able to help and this is a great example of how companies can work together to help each other and the wider community.”

The screens were supplied by the display solutions specialist Melford Technologies, based in Buckinghamshire.

Steve Osborne, Managing Director of Melford Technologies, said: “We are delighted to be part of the Acorns project. It’s great to see our technologies being used to bring enjoyment and relaxation to the children living in the hospice.”

For more information or for interview, photograph or filming opportunities, contact the PR and Communications team at news@acorns.org.uk.

Notes to editors:

Due to the sensitive nature of Acorns care services it refrains from using the words ‘terminal’ or ‘terminally ill’ in its press releases and public communications when describing the children who use Acorns and the conditions that they have. Instead, Acorns uses the words ‘life limited’, ‘life limiting’, or ‘life threatening’. Acorns kindly requests that you respect this in your communications when referring to Acorns Children’s Hospice. Acorns children have a lot of living to do. Thank you.