New children’s hospice lightens load on families

FAMILY SUPPORT: Tracy Smith (left) and Fiona Ashmore of Hospice in the Weald

With the opening of the Hospice in the Weald for Children, more help is now at hand for the families and child-sufferers of life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses.

Known within the community for providing outstanding care for terminally ill adults and their loved ones, Hospice in the Weald has now extended its services to include care for children in Kent and East Sussex.

Offering a range of services, from nursing care to practical and emotional support such as counselling and bereavement therapy, the hospice’s specialist Children’s team is now on hand to ease the strain for the entire family, including siblings − all free of charge.

Nick Farthing, Hospice in the Weald’s Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted Hospice in the Weald for Children is now up and running. With advances in technology and care, children and young people are living longer than previously. This puts strain on the limited resources available and on families. We are
here to offer greater choice and availability for families in the area, and want to work collaboratively with other providers to make a difference to the lives of those who need us most.”

Tracy Smith, who heads the Hospice’s Children’s Service, has been a paediatric nurse for more than 20 years. She said: “We are delighted to now have home visits underway and are enjoying getting to know some of the amazing children and their families in our community.

“We are here to offer respite care to families, so children can stay in the comfort of their own home. To ensure children can be children, we have an array of specialist and sensory toys and activities to help each child have fun and make memories,” Ms Smith said.

Caring for a terminally ill child takes a massive toll on the family, Ms Smith explained. “Families need respite so that parents or carers have some breathing space to cope.

A few hours to just do some shopping, spend time with another sibling, or to be able to do something as a couple, can make the world of difference to a parent who is otherwise caring for their child around the clock. Being able to become ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ and not ‘carer’, even for a few hours, can help parents regain a sense of identity.

Counselling support is also available for the entire family, including siblings, to help them cope with the emotional impact of the child’s diagnosis.

“We are welcoming referrals as we fully establish our new service and are happy to speak to families who may wish to find out if we can support them,” Ms Smith said.

Families can ask their health professional to refer them to Hospice in the Weald for Children, or they can refer themselves.

For more information and a referral form, select the ‘Children’ tab at:

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