Louise Hamilton Centre: project completed on time and on budget

Bosses at the James Paget University Hospital say they are blessed to have a facility as 'fantastic' as the Louise Hamilton Centre.

Architects took the project to heart, and even brought their families in at the weekend to do planting in the garden - ensuring it is perfect for visitors.

And all involved are delighted they achieved their goal of creating a support centre with a 'friendly' atmosphere.

Trust chairman David Wright said: 'It's absolutely fantastic. Light, warm, friendly, beautiful design, calm - all these sorts of words come to mind.

'Everybody I've spoken to thinks it's a wonderful building that will do the job it's designed to do.

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'It's close to the hospital but nothing like a hospital, which is what we were trying to achieve.'

He was impressed not only at the professional finish of the centre, but that it was completed on time and on budget.

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'I think it's been achieved like that as everybody is so highly motivated to get this right for the patients that it's going to work,' reasoned Mr Wright. 'All power to the people who have been managing the process.'

And he stressed that the whole focus is on what's best for patients.

'When we came in and saw the centre we just knew people will feel comfortable here,' he added. 'I can't wait for the first people to begin to use it in the middle of January.

'It was just a pleasure to become chairman of a trust with such a facility.'

Louise Knights, of Norwich-based LSI Architects, said designing the centre became more than a job.

'Staff definitely have taken it to heart,' she said. 'Lots of people have lost loved ones to cancer, so they can see the benefit of this project.

'I organised a Saturday of work so staff and family came out and did the planting. They were very keen to come and help.'

Plants in the courtyard were donated by Lound Garden Centre, and staff have hailed Roy and Linda Mace and all their staff for their continued support and fundraising for the appeal.

Mrs Knights added she was pleased with the yellow wall - with interaction from inside to out.

'We wanted to keep the domestic feel, so it feels homely as soon as you walk in,' she added.

The 525sqm building will have a meet and greet atmosphere at the entrance instead of a formal reception.

An inner garden is designed to be enjoyed rather than act as a show garden, and it is hoped it will become a wildlife haven overnight.

The building's interior layout consists of a main lounge, seating, a children's play area and both counselling and multi-function rooms for therapy.

The counselling rooms offers privacy with screened doors.

It is estimated 10,000 people a year will use the centre.

When the centre opens in January it will provide a range of specialist palliative care services, lymphoedema service, advice and support including welfare and money matters, therapy groups, a variety of information about health conditions.

Complementary and relaxation therapies including music and art therapy will be part of the feeling good and wellbeing aspect of the centre's services.

Families are also included and will be able to access advice, support including family therapies and support groups and services such as bereavement support, all specific for their needs.

The centre will host services provided by a wide range of organisations working in partnership: which includes local health and social care services, local and national cancer charities, family support and care organisations, patient support groups, a variety of organisations with the focus on specific conditions and bereavement charities.

Building work was carried out by Suffolk-based ISG.

For details, see: www.palliative-care-east.org.uk

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