I talk with Laura Robertson from Children’s Hospice South West about how we offer end of life care to our young children and their families.
Laura joined Children’s Hospice South West back in June 2017 after many years of fundraising for both small and large charities. A career that that she did not anticipate when graduating from University of Plymouth with a Theatre degree over 10 years ago, but one that is filled with highs, lows, daily challenges and so much to be thankful for. “What I love so much about my job is getting to meet so many people from different walks of life and knowing that the work that I am doing is making a real difference to local people.
Social isolation is not new to families caring for children with life-limiting conditions. Many are used to long hospital stays far from home, long periods of illness preventing normal daily activities, being unable to attend school due to health needs, and sacrificing social interactions due to care needs.
But the Covid lockdown has brought many new and often terrifying challenges to these families, many of whom have seen care packages fall away and their wider support networks disappear in the wake of the global pandemic.
Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW), which looks after 500 families around the South West, has had to adapt its care model to continue providing the lifeline support the charity has offered since 1995.
Because of the significant risks and the vulnerability of children, routine respite stays at the three hospices – Charlton Farm in North Somerset, Little Bridge House in Devon, and Little Harbour in Cornwall – have been cancelled. But the hospices remain open for emergency and end-of-life care and the charity has developed a ‘hospice, home and virtual’ model to be able to continue caring for families wherever they are and whenever they need it most.
“We try to make the most of every single moment and make memories that we will treasure always”
We have supported children in their homes providing night shifts when care packages in the community have fallen apart, enabling families to step in and care for their children in the morning. We have also been providing care for community children’s nurses, cover over weekends and evenings. Our care teams have been visiting families on doorsteps giving food parcels and lots of virtual support, including a virtual sibling and bereavement groups.
CHSW needs around £11m a year to run its three children’s hospices and around 85 per cent is raised through voluntary donations.
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