INPATIENT UNIT: The new ward. Pictures: Paul Tibbs

A WEST Norfolk hospice has opened its first inpatient unit to support patients and their families.

The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House in Hillington, has now unveiled the Dr Hugh Ford Inpatient Unit – named after the founder of the hospice.

The £750,000 complex has nine en suite bedrooms and a large communal area for patients and visitors.

Each room has a TV and Wi-Fi, a large adapted bathroom and there is a multi-faith room.

Hospice chief executive Lyndsay Carter said the opening represented “another milestone achieved for the hospice” adding: “This would never have been possible without the hard work over many years from staff, volunteers, patients, patrons and the many hospice supporters.”

The aim of the unit is to provide support and care to patients with a wide range of symptoms associated with life-shortening illnesses and since its move to Hillington it has been able to offer more care.

The hospice provides day therapies, hospice at home services, bereavement and support.

The new unit will be led by consultant nurse Sue Barham who will work in partnership with Southgates Medical Centre in King’s Lynn and the consultant in palliative medicine.

The ward will initially care for patients in the last few weeks of their lives and then grow to accept patients with any life-shortening illness who are struggling with symptoms or other issues and need support from an inpatient unit. Patients and their families will be cared for by a highly trained nursing team, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, social worker and counselling teams.

Referral to the unit will only be made through health professionals to ensure that everyone supporting the patient and the family is fully informed of care needs, allowing staff to provide the best support and care possible.

West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group will contribute funding for the unit. Maggie Carter, director of quality assurance, said the group was “delighted to support” the new unit as part of its “commitment to excellence in palliative and end of life care”.