More children with complex or incurable conditions are getting the care they need in their own homes thanks to a local hospice charity.
Little Havens provides specialist palliative and supportive care to children and young people from birth to 25 years old. There is a hospice in Benfleet, but the charity also has a ‘Community Team’ team which visits family homes across Essex. They provide respite, nursing care and support at the end of a children’s life, which is completely free of charge thanks to donations made by the community.
The service launched in September 2020. Currently, 90 children are being supported by the Little Havens Community Team, an increase of 20% over two years. There has also been a 46% increase in the hours of care that families are receiving.
This care is completely free of charge to families because of donations and fundraising events arranged by the local community.
One of those children currently benefiting from care in their home is Elijah Tyeah, who lives in Grays with his mum Natasha Oakley. The three-year-old was born prematurely with a rare infection which caused other complex and serious conditions which affect his brain and development.
The home visits from Little Havens started during the Covid lockdown, but have continued alongside visits to the hospice. Natasha, 33, says, ““For Elijah, he loves people talking to him. Our Little Havens carer comes in with more energy, and new ideas of things to do with him. It’s nice for him to get attention from someone else.They take the time to get to know Elijah, what his little oddities are and what makes him happy. We’re just very, very grateful for the charity and everything they do for families like us.”
Emma Simpson is a Senior Nurse for children and young people at Little Havens. She says, “For the families who prefer respite in the home, it’s comforting for them to have a regular and consistent level of care, with the carer getting to know the children and their specific needs. The families can still be themselves in their own home and we will just fit into that dynamic.
“Often children with complex needs will have a lot of equipment, medication and personal care items that are needed for short breaks, so it’s not always convenient for them to leave the house for a short while.
“Respite care is what the families want it to be, and they can spend these hours how they choose. They may go shopping or spend time with their other children. They may even want to stay with their child, but hand over the personal care to us. Sometimes it’s just support, a mental and physical break for them. You may be the only person they’ve seen all week because they’re so isolated.”
To find out more about Little Havens and its ‘Community’ service, visit www.havenshospices.org.uk and click on ‘Refer’
Published 28th November 2022