Staying on the wards

Information about our Inpatient Unit at Sydenham

Many people feel apprehensive about a stay at the hospice but, after a few hours, people often tell us it is so much better than they expected. Our team will do their best to create a ‘home from home’ for you, as your comfort and individual preferences are our main priority. It is important that you help us to understand what these are.

Most people under the care of St Christopher’s are supported to die at home. Our hospice beds exist so that anyone who needs specialist palliative care (which cannot be provided in the community or another setting) can experience contemporary, high-quality care and support to enable them to achieve their goals and wishes.

If you come to us as an inpatient, we will review your care regularly. Sometimes people still need nursing care, but not the high level of specialist care that the inpatient unit provides. If this happens we will, in consultation with you and your family or main carer, support you to return to your own home or if necessary apply for a care home placement for you still supported by a community palliative care team.

These conversations may start early on in your stay and we call this ‘parallel planning’. Put simply, this is the process of actively acknowledging and planning for two or more possibilities at the same time.

Our inpatient unit has both single rooms with en-suite bathrooms as well as shared rooms with four beds to a bay. We will do our best to find you a room that is right for you based on your needs, preferences and bed availability. We recognise that some people prefer to be with others whilst some like their own space.

People often have lots of questions before coming to stay at the hospice. We’ve listed a few of the most common ones in this section, but feel free to speak to your nurse or a member of the St Christopher’s team if you have any other questions; we’re here and happy to help.

What do I need to bring?

Each person staying with us will be given their own wardrobe and bedside cabinet.

We ask that you bring with you:

  • toiletries
  • usual day clothes and nightwear
  • appropriate footwear

You’re also welcome to bring personal items from home such as photographs, bedding and plants to make your space feel more homely and comforting.

If there is something that would make your stay with us special we would encourage you to ask one of our team.

What about my medicines?

Please also bring with you the medicines you are taking and, if possible, your most recent GP repeat prescription request. This helps us to make sure we have an up to date view of your medicines and also saves wasting the medicines you already have as, once they have been checked, you will normally be able to continue to take them on the ward.

At St Christopher’s we have a pharmacy service so we will make sure you have all the medicines you need while staying with us, when you go out on visits or go home. Medicines are supplied free of charge in the same way as in hospitals.

When can my visitors come?

It’s important to have the people who are important to you with you, so we welcome visitors from 8am until 10pm. We can arrange for visitors to stay the night by your bedside, please tell us if you would like to arrange this. If you have visitors who are travelling to see you and want to stay for a while, our reception staff also have a list of local hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation.

The Anniversary Centre on the ground floor is a friendly and relaxing place where you and your visitors can enjoy refreshments together looking out on to the beautiful Rotary Garden. The cafe is open from 8am. Children are very welcome to visit; there are toys on each ward and in the cafe for them to play with.

We also welcome pets – they are part of the family too! If you’d like to arrange a visit from a furry friend please speak to one of the St Christopher’s team to arrange this.

We will only give information about you to people you have identified as your next of kin. Please make sure you let the staff know who these people are. If other people ask about you we will ask them to speak to your identified next of kin.

What about meals?

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served every day and we’ll fit timings around you. You’re welcome to have any snacks as well as hot and cold drinks throughout the day. We have a varied and changing menu and our chefs are happy to accommodate any taste or dietary requirements you may have. Alcoholic drinks are also available upon request. Each ward has a fridge and access to making hot drinks. Some people also get food delivered from nearby restaurants.

Can I smoke?

Although the hospice is a non-smoking building, we have a designated area in the Rotary Garden where you can smoke. This also applies to e-cigarettes.

Is there outside space?

You’re welcome to enjoy the gardens which are open to everyone. The gardens are wheelchair accessible and we can even bring you down in your bed. Please ask a member of staff.

What if English isn’t my first language?

We have access to an interpreting service to make it easier for you and your family to tell us what you need and how we can help.

Can someone stay with me?

Our primary aim is to make you feel welcome and supported. If you would prefer to have a friend or family member stay with you, please speak to a member of your care team.

What are the wards like?

We do our best to make sure your stay with us is comfortable and welcoming.

We know it can be reassuring to see the space where you will be staying before you arrive so we have created a short video which you can watch at

Each bed has a free TV and free access to the internet.

The wards are staffed by specialist nurses in addition to other professionals, who all work together as part of the multi-professional team.

Infection prevention and control

Sometimes, we may need to implement ‘contact precautions’ whilst caring for you. This may be because you are infected with a micro-organism that can be passed to other people, or because The wards are staffed by specialist nurses in addition to other professionals, who all work together as part of the multi-professional team. you have symptoms of a contagious disease.

For example, you might have a rash that could mean you have chicken pox or shingles, or, if you have diarrhoea and vomiting this could mean you have a gastrointestinal infection.

If any of this applies to you, we will explain the reasons for needing to use these extra precautions and what your care will look like.

Useful numbers

You can call the wards directly:

  • City Ward (second floor) 020 8768 4540/1
  • Alexandra Ward (third floor) 020 8768 4537/8
  • Rugby Ward (fourth floor) 020 8768 4546/7

The wifi network at the hospice is StChris and st.christophers is the password.

We have a shared code of conduct at St Christopher’s for all staff, patients, family members and visitors.


  • be kind
  • be respectful
  • be compassionate
  • be polite
  • be mindful of others
  • protect people’s dignity

Please note, poor conduct towards our staff, patients, volunteers or other visitors will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to ask you to leave the premises immediately should we deem your behaviour to be inappropriate.

If you feel your particular needs have not been met, we’d like the opportunity to try to sort it out as soon as possible. Please speak to a member of staff or one of our volunteers and we will do our best to support you appropriately.

We really value your views. Please tell us what we do well and where we could improve


We really value your views. Please tell us what we do well and where we could improve. There are lots of ways that you can provide feedback about your experience of St Christopher’s. Email us at, call us on 020 8768 4500 or fill in a feedback form which can be found at both hospice sites.

Listening to your experience of St Christopher’s is important to us. We aim to be a learning organisation and hearing your views and thoughts helps us to learn from your experience of our support and care. One way to give us feedback is to join a focus group. We run regular focus groups on the last Wednesday of each month. These vary between our two sites at Sydenham or Orpington, or via Zoom. If you would like to register your interest in joining a focus group, please email or call 020 8768 4604.

You are also entitled to complain about our services. You can complain formally by talking to any member of staff or volunteer, or by writing a letter, email or note that can be sent or handed to any member of staff.

You might also be interested in:

Visiting for your appointment

Visiting for appointments

Helpful information about visiting for your outpatient appointment

Support at home

Supporting you at home

Most people with a life limiting illness want to stay living in their own homes and our community palliative care services are here to help you do that

Welcome to St Christopher's

Welcome to St Christopher’s

A useful introduction to the services we can offer you and your loved ones

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