As you look back on how you felt going into lockdown in March, take a second to think about Emma, Craig and their family. The couple’s daughter Sian has a life-limiting chronic illness called Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type II, and she requires 24-hour care - Julia’s House has been providing respite care in the family’s home in Weymouth since 2015.  After defying all the odds Sian has recently celebrated her 17th birthday, lockdown style!   

While Emma and Craig were of course worried about Sian and her younger brother Harry – the family went into lockdown early to avoid any unnecessary risks - it was the latest addition to the family that was causing additional anxiety to the already stressful situation. Emma was seven months pregnant with her third child when lockdown officially started, with a due date of the end of May.    

“I had everything in place for the birth, with my family all lined up to help us when I went into hospital, but because of lockdown, everything I’d organised just fell through,” said Emma.  “It was incredibly stressful. When PPE was introduced it was extremely difficult to source as there was a national shortage. Due to Sian’s medical needs the carers are required to wear fitted masks to adhere to the aerosol procedure before entering the home. These masks were either unavailable or would not always fit. Our personal carers were not allowed into the home because of this issue, which caused extra pressure and frustration to the whole family. This in turn meant my husband Craig and I were left to do 24-hour care, which wasn’t easy for me as I was heavily pregnant.   “I was talking to Natalie, our nurse at Julia’s House, every day, asking her whether the PPE had arrived.  Julia’s House was finding it challenging to get hold of the right masks too. It was so stressful, knowing I was going to have to go into hospital, but not knowing who was going to be able to look after Sian. It was all adding to the worry of having a baby during coronavirus.”  

Emma was finally booked in for the birth on 28th May, and called Natalie to let her know.  She went on: “They had just managed to get the masks they needed, so she said they would be able to help when I went into hospital. They had not known for certain right up until the last minute, so it was challenging for them as well. It was such a relief all round. Julia’s House were absolute lifesavers!”  

The Julia’s House nurses and carers covered from 2-7am, tag-teaming with the carers. They were also on standby in case anyone could not make it. Knowing Sian was being looked after so well and knew her carers made such a difference to Emma to Craig:  “We had peace of mind that someone would know exactly what to do if there was an emergency. If they had not been able to help, I really do not know what wewould have done as we had no PPE for anyone else to help.”   

Little Elsie finally arrived at 10.44am on 29th May and Natalie from Julia’s House was there when the family arrived home from hospital.  “We both burst into tears!” said Emma.   She added: “It’s been an emotional and nerve-wracking time and we are just so pleased to be back home with Elsie. She is a little gem. Our son Harry, who is a little star, helped Sian too. We’ve also just celebrated Sian’s 17th birthday, so it has been a busy few weeks! We’re certainly going to remember lockdown for a long while and the amazing support we received from Julia’s House.”

Sian with her new sister Elsie