I wanted to share a story with you about one of our lovely teenagers, Olly Macbean who is 13. He was able to experience a magical moment at his sister’s birthday party, thanks to the love and support of his care team – and with a little help from some play.
Julia’s House has been supporting Olly and his family for many years. He has care sessions at home and in the hospice and his mum, dad and siblings also enjoy many of the social activities organised by our Family Support team.
Not surprisingly, the Julia’s House nurses and carers have built up a really wonderful relationship with the whole family. These pictures show Olly smiling with carer Della and having a relaxing head massage with carer Mandy – it is clear to see the very special bond he has formed with his carers. Olly is a sweet, affectionate boy who suffers from seizures, has spinal problems which limit his mobility and has to be on a very strict diet to control his glucose levels. His carers have to follow quite a rigid routine to look after Olly’s physical needs, but there is always time for fun – even when you only have half an hour to spare.
Olly’s condition means he needs constant sensory stimulation and often chews on a little toy to get some relief. With this in mind, Nurse Kate, who heads up the team looking after Olly, asked if I could come up with a play plan to help Olly relax, but also for him to have some downtime with his carers during a break in his routine.
I went along to a community care session with Olly to see how I could help. I used music from the current charts, coloured scarves, ribbons , African drums, chimes and various play techniques to bring together a session that really did become quite magical. We were thrilled to see that for a full half hour Olly did not need this ‘chew toy’ and relaxed , smiled , laughed, anticipated , requested something to start and to stop and, for once, was in full control of the world around him.
The play plan has been embraced by the carers, Olly’s family –and most of all Olly himself – so they can enjoy moments like this again and again.
His parents are delighted and told me that they used one of the music tracks I’d included at Olly's sister’s birthday party. They hired a disco dome, played this music and Olly was able to join in with gusto alongside his sister because it evoked happy memories for him. A lovely moment for the family to cherish.
I love going out to help a child and witness the joy of a care session. I always leave feeling very lucky to have been able to step into a child’s "bubble” and share special times.
Anyone thinking of becoming a paediatric nurse of changing jobs should not be put off by the idea that Julia’s House is a scary place. Coping with the death of a child is the part of the job everyone focuses on and yet there is so, so much more to being a Julia’s House nurse.