Central to ellenor’s ethos is the principle of ‘holistic’ care. This means caring not only for the patient but supporting their family members in a variety of ways. It also involves taking into account not only the child’s clinical requirements but their emotional, social, and psychological needs too. To do this, we offer a range of Wellbeing Services, including counselling, play and music therapy, and respite care.
Respite Care is focussed on providing temporary relief for parents and caregivers for ellenor's Children's Team, this means looking after children with life-limiting conditions.
Our Children’s Care Assistant, Emma Leaver has been with the hospice for seven years, since she was just 18, and whose grandparents were both cared for by the charity. Emma puts the role of her team in far more poignant terms, “We’re here to make magical memories and provide the best care possible.”
Making Magical Memories
Emma works with a range of children across multiple settings. Some days, she’ll be visiting the homes of life-limited child patients to help them with everyday medical care and daily routines. Whether that’s homework or video games, whilst ensuring they’re fed, taken care of, and given the correct medication. Emma also practices sensory play, a form of interaction designed to help children with more complex conditions access colours and textures.
“That would mean play using sand, pasta, wet porridge – getting the child to feel different textures. We would then do a sensory session; making the room dark and getting lots of slow glow and ceiling lights for them to look at. We give foot and hand massages, do lots of arts and crafts, and – if the child is not able to participate – we’d paint their feet or hands to make pictures.”
On other days, Emma takes the children on trips to the zoo or cinema or supports the rest of the respite team at family events and outings. These can include visits to country parks or steam trains; activities which are designed not only to help life-limited children access the world in a new way, but also help the parents handle some of the social isolation issues that come with raising a child with complex needs.
Along with putting together care plans, providing personal and medical care from the child’s home, and taking kids to hospital appointments, Emma also spends her week planning special activities to engage them.
“I love my job”, says Emma. “It’s about making the most of the child’s life, and making their dreams come true.”
For one 16-year-old end of life patient, that dream was to go to the beach. Emma – who, as part of her role in our Respite Team, works with individuals up to 18 years old – was able to organise it. With the help of a minivan, some ice cream, and a trip to the aquarium, we were able to create an experience that would live long in the hearts and minds of the boy’s family.
“His Mum never forgets this trip – she always mentions it when I see her. Instead of families remembering the negative things from when their child was sick, they can think of the fun we had, instead – these are the kind of things we like to do at ellenor.