The Julia’s House story
The Dorset children’s hospice was the idea of Julia Perks, a former Great Ormond Street nurse. Julia worked at Poole Hospital caring for seriously ill children and saw the need for greater support for these children and their families. Tragically she died of cancer before she could take this vision much further. Her friends, led by our founder Mike Wise MBE, carried it on to make her dream come true and named it after her.
After much local fundraising, in 2003 the charity ‘Julia’s House’ recruited two children’s community nurses, Ali Acaster and Karen Dale – Ali is still our Director of Care. They set up a community respite service: nurses and carers visiting the family home regularly to care for the child. In 2006 we opened the Julia’s House children’s hospice in Corfe Mullen, Poole, providing play activities, a multi-sensory room, and bedrooms for overnight care. Complementary therapies, art and play therapy are also available.
Both these services – at home and in the hospice – provide frequent respite, giving regular breaks throughout the child’s life to their families. Many life-limited or life-threatened children have intensive round-the-clock care needs, which can cause exhaustion and strain on family relationships. This is why respite matters.
“At our lowest we were so tired, but those few hours gave us back the balance in our lives that we so desperately needed.” - a parent of a Julia’s House child
Julia’s House also provides emergency and end-of-life care, in the hospice or at home. Sadly there will always be children unlikely to live into adulthood: local children with conditions such as cancer, muscular dystrophy, severe cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy, and many other, rarer conditions.
The Dorset hospice’s design theme of the Jurassic Coast is beautifully created with pebbles, fossils, sand, driftwood and a mermaid sculpture. This home-from-home, together with care in families’ own homes all over Dorset and now in Wiltshire too, is your local children’s hospice: a free service for every family who should ever need it. Our beautiful hospice in Devizes, Wiltshire opened in 2017, and we are still growing our service across Wiltshire, with children able to access care in their own home or at the new hospice.
Families are also supported, with activities for Siblings, parents and other family members.
Julia’s House aims to be a very high quality service and employer:
We receive only 5% government funding. We must raise the other 95% with a dynamic fundraising team of staff and volunteers and through the great generosity of the public. We couldn’t do it without you!
“When nobody else cared, or at least not enough to help, Julia’s House was there. We were drowning and they simply rescued us.” - a parent