Our children's hospice family support enables family members to participate in carefully planned regular social events. This could be a treat for mums and dads or a sleepover for siblings, helping to build their resilience and confidence. A variety of complementary therapies are offered to parents and children to help during some of the most difficult or stressful times. Every child we care for will also receive a dedicated play plan to help them reach and achieve their potential. We run a packed calendar of social activities.
We organise events for families so that they are able to spend quality time together, forming friendships with other families in similar circumstances. Our two biggest are the annual summer BBQ and Winter Party - both high points in the Julia’s House calendar. On a smaller scale, but equally popular are the regular ‘Housemates’ and ‘Minimates’ sessions. These are informal groups are either in the hospice or in the community where parents and enjoy a cuppa and a chat while their children enjoy supervised play. These meet-ups can help parents break the cycle of isolation that can come with being at home every day with a sick child.
We organise a number of evenings just for couples – a rare chance for a night out together. Our most popular is on St Valentine’s Day – a glam evening with a special dinner prepared by our Julia’s House cook, Angela.
Shopping trips, a day at the races and even the chance to ride a horse and learn to play polo. A great opportunity for mums to meet and make new friends.
The boys prefer something with more of an adrenaline kick and our Children's Hospice Family Support Team are happy to oblige, with a variety of events. Recent trips have included zip-wiring, clay pigeon shooting, quad biking and a day watching motor racing at Thruxton.
It is easy for a sibling to feel overlooked or isolated. Our Siblings’ Group provides fun days out to help them form friendships, away from the worries of having a very poorly brother or sister. The group is split to cater for different age groups and includes week-long residential trips when the youngsters can really get away from it all.
No-one is overlooked in the family circle that surrounds a sick child. Newly launched as part of our children's hospice family support is Great Mates, a social get together for grandparents, aunts, uncles, family friends - indeed anyone who is regularly involved in the care and support of a Julia’s House child.
All our children and families are offered free complementary therapy including aromatherapy and reflexology. For children, these therapies can be hugely beneficial both to calm but also to aid a number of medical conditions. For parents it is a wonderfully relaxing way to unwind from the day-to-day stress of caring.
Even small changes to a child’s development through specialist services can mean a giant leap for many families. Every child that comes to Julia’s House has a dedicated play plan which is created with parents, nurses and carers so that everyone can ‘play’ their part in developing a child’s potential. This tailored play is not only fun, it can also help parents cope with all sorts of challenges – from helping a child overcome a phobia to preparing them for a change of routine or a new piece of equipment.
“Play can be very low down on the list of priorities for mums and dads who are just trying to keep a child alive. But behind all the care there is a child who just wants to play. We want all children to have access to quality play no matter how poorly they may be."
Sue, Julia's House Playmaker
Anyone thinking of becoming a paediatric nurse or 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.
The Julia's House sibling service is an absolute godsend. It's giving my children the chance to experience a normal childhood when life for them is about as far from normal as it gets.
“Parents of life-limited and life-threatened children are used to hearing about what their child cannot do from the moment they are born. For us, the focus is on what the child can do."
Sue, Julia's House Playmaker