The modern hospice movement in the UK began in the 1960’s and was largely developed by Dame Cicely Saunders who was a nurse who felt that the care that was offered to the dying in hospitals was inadequate. She felt that too often patients and families were told that “there was nothing more that could be done” a statement that Dame Cicely refused to accept. She felt that much could be done if the focus was changed from purely extending life to looking at quality of life through a holistic approach to care including focusing on physical symptoms alone but also on the social and spiritual needs of patients too. Dame Cicely founded St Christopher’s Hospice in London in 1967 and over the next 20 years, over 200 further hospices were set up across the UK.
In 1979 the Societies of Beverley and Hull Friends joined together to create a place where “…greater provision should be made for the incurably sick in a loving atmosphere,” and so the North Humberside Hospice Project was registered as a charity in May 1980.
The first Hospital Support Nurse was appointed in 1983 and the day hospice began, run with the help of volunteers, at the building generously made available by the Sisters of Mercy at Endsleigh. The hospice came to be known as Dove House Hospice as the room the Friends met in was called the Dove Room.
As the team grew it was determined that there was a need for a bedded unit to provide the much-needed services for the people of Hull and EastYorkshire. Unfortunately, the current premises did not have the space required and so the search began to find a suitable site and the funds needed for a purpose designed hospice.
Through the generosity of Reckitt & Coleman PLC who provided the grounds and, after many meetings, the plans for the two-acre Chamberlain Road site were drawn up and work on the site began in 1987.
The move from Beverley Road to the new premises on Chamberlain Road took place in May 1990, marked with sadness at leaving “an old friend” and excitement for the future. In October 1991 the hospice opened its doors to the first bedded unit patients and on the 24th June 1992 HRH Diana, Princess of Wales, formally opened Dove House Hospice.
The hospice continued to develop and expand its services until it began to outgrow its premises and a major redevelopment of the site began in 2009. Over the following 6 years the building was upgraded and substantially extended to make it fit for purpose and add some new facilities including a gym and much larger Day Hospice called the Amy Johnson Community Hub.
Thanks to a generous legacy provided by Henry and Dora Needler, a new wing called The Needler Unit was also built which was initially designated to offer addition al respite care, however the demand for this space changed over time and as such it has been used for a number of different purposes over the years including inpatient care, training and supporting the NHS during the Covid-19 crisis.
In 2016 the hospice opened a satellite day centre in Hornsea Cottage Hospital to extend the reach of its care. This was kindly supported by the Hornsea League of Friends who funded the equipment needed to set up this new venture.
Also in 2016 the hospice developed a new vision and 10-year strategy to expand its services and secure its future.
Today the hospice is a core part of the health provision in the region, providing excellent services and support to residents of Hull and East Yorkshire. Although it is hard to predict the future, Dove House continues to work hard to ensure it is there for those who need it and adapts to meet the needs of its community.