Focus on: Helen and Douglas House

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The death of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare, but nobody ever thinks it will happen to them.  Hearing the unimaginable news that your child is terminally ill, can feel as though your whole world has fallen apart.  As one Dad found out, you never know what’s around the corner or how you would cope if the worst happened to you.


Helen and Douglas House helps local families cope with the challenges of looking after a terminally ill baby or child who will die prematurely, by providing care and emotional support to everyone involved

This year 2019 they are celebrating 35 years as the world’s first childrens hospice.

Helen and Douglas House is a home from home for terminally ill babies, children and their families.  It’s a comforting place where families can enjoy creating happy memories together in their last days, weeks, months, or years.  We’re here to support the whole family at this unimaginably difficult time.  We provide practical and emotional support as families face the challenge of terminal illness.

Based in East Oxford, Helen and Douglas House started life in 1982 when Helen House and the children’s hospice movement was founded, by Sister Frances Dominica. As the World’s first children’s hospice, Helen House has gone on to inspire 49 others across the UK and around the world.


The inspiration for Helen House, was a little girl named Helen.  She was left with severe and irreversible brain damage after an emergency operation to remove a brain tumour.   Her parents took her home from hospital to care fore her in her family surroundings.

This led to a strong friendship between Helen’s parents and Sister Frances.  From there the idea of a small friendly hospice was born.


Douglas House opened its doors in 2004.  It was the world’s first specialist hospice EXCLUSIVELY for young adults, and as such bridged the gap between a children’s and an adult hospice.  It was named after a Helen House patient called Douglas.  Sadly Douglas died before he could see what the hospice was like.  Even more sadly after 14 years Douglas House closed on 21st June 2018 due to a shortfall in funding.

Helen House remains open to care for terminally ill, babies, children and young people aged 0-18.


In 2007 the BBC showed a 2 part documentary called ‘The Children of Helen House’ part 1 in 2007 and part 2 in 2009.

(Source: Helen and Douglas House)

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