Children's hospice to open in Barcelona's Sant Pau complex in 2025

First center in Catalonia and Spain dedicated to end of life pediatric care will welcome 400 children a year and their families

The Santa Victòria pavilion in Barcelona's Sant Pau modernist complex will house the children's hospice
The Santa Victòria pavilion in Barcelona's Sant Pau modernist complex will house the children's hospice / Laura Fíguls

ACN | @agenciaacn | Barcelona

February 15, 2023 06:34 PM

February 15, 2023 06:34 PM

The Enriqueta Villavecchia Children's Oncology Foundation is to open a pediatric hospice in Barcelona in 2025. 

The center providing end of life care to seriously ill children will be housed in the Santa Victòria Pavilion at the Sant Pau modernist complex

While hospice care exists in other parts of the world, notably the United Kingdom, it is relatively unheard of in Catalonia. 

The new center will aim to be a space for comprehensive support – emotional, social, educational – and for "family respite." 

The foundation anticipates that the hospice will welcome around 400 families a year and that it will be able to start operating in June 2025, after renovation work on the pavilion is completed. 

The hospice will be managed by Sant Pau Hospital and overseen by health and social services.  

International Childhood Cancer Day 

In Catalonia, there are around 1,500 children who require end of life care and around 1,500 more who require complex chronic care. 

Every year, there are around 400 deaths of children under the age of 19 and 260 would be likely to need hospice care, according to data provided by the foundation on Wednesday as they presented the project on International Childhood Cancer Day, February 15. 

Hospitals not suitable 

At the event, the president of the foundation, pediatrician Núria Pardo, explained how every time she loses one of her young patients, she wonders if a hospital is "the most suitable place for these children to have spent the last days of their life." 

"No, without a doubt. When the child is sick, they want to go home and be with their parents, but sometimes it's not possible because they need special care or their home doesn't have the right features." 

"It is necessary to build spaces that complement the care provided during the various phases of the child's illness, and that accompany them with the tenderness and respect they deserve until the very end," Dr Pardo said. 

First children's hospice 

The children's hospice, the first of its kind in Catalonia or Spain, will be built in the Santa Victòria pavilion, the current headquarters of the foundation, at a cost of €6.7m. 

Work on the hospice is set to start in January 2024 with funding will come mainly from private contributions. 

It will welcome children with complex chronic diseases or terminal illnesses and will support families with "spaces for respite, rest and leisure" and "suitable for the last days of life," the foundation's manager, Anna Varderi, explained at the presentation, which was attended by the Minister of Health, Manel Balcells. 

Care and wellbeing 

The center will offer both inpatient and outpatient services. 

As well as treatment from medical and nursing staff, there will be social work, psychological care, physiotherapy and multisensory stimulation. The center will also have care and wellbeing services, complementary therapies, such as music therapy, art therapy and animal therapy, as well as help at home and mutual support groups. 

The hospice will have six individual rooms, two family apartments for the last days of life, rooms for treatment and therapies, play and rest areas and spaces for reflection and spirituality. 

Space to breathe 

Patrícia Alonso is the mother of Ona, a girl with multiple disabilities. "Being a parent changes your life. When you have a child with special needs, the change is like a tsunami."  

"You have to be attentive 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the end you are a therapist, physio, nurse, you are always looking out for their medical needs. That's why we often forget to be parents."  

"Above all we have the need to breathe", she said. Alonso believes that the hospice will help with this and allow them to do normal things such as going shopping or going out as a couple. 

"It's about being able to leave your daughter, the person you love the most, with people who know exactly what she needs, and not haveing to worry about it."