As children’s hospices across the country mark Children’s Hospice Week, nurses at Brian House have reflected on the challenges they have faced over the last year, as well as the opportunities it has presented for them and local fragile children.
The hospice provides care and support to children living with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions across the Fylde coast, usually from its bespoke facility in Bispham. But as the pandemic hit, fewer children were allowed indoors at any one time, and some families chose to keep their extremely fragile children away altogether.
It meant the staff at Brian House had to quickly adapt so that they could continue to deliver the outstanding care local children desperately need in their family’s home.
Staff Nurse Shorni Foster said:
“Due to COVID-19 restrictions and the impact it had on the capacity on the number of children we could care for in Brian House, we knew we had to react and reach out to our families in different ways to support them through the pandemic.
“We introduced the Brian House Community Team to deliver respite and palliative care in the community in line with government guidelines and restrictions.
“There has always been a plan to establish a community team, and a positive outcome from the pandemic is that we have been successful in achieving this.”
Senior Staff Nurse Jenny Cowan said when they first told families about a community service, some were hesitant. But seeing how it worked in practice helped them to realise they could get all the benefits of children’s hospice care in their own homes.
“The community service is now thriving and is popular with our families.
“It has been really rewarding to see the children in their home environment and to be able to continue to build positive relationships with our families. We have received a lot of positive feedback.”
All families who use Brian House can access the community service and respite care in the hospice.
The team’s nurses and Health Care Assistants aim to visit up to three families each day, helping provide specialist care, including administering medication, changing feeding tubes and other medical equipment which would otherwise be done in hospital, and even end-of-life care.
“Not only do we provide nursing care within the community, but we also plan fun activities such as craft activities in the home and trips to the beach, the zoo, and even Sandcastle Waterpark.
“Whilst we are caring for the child, it allows parents to have some much-needed time to themselves, giving them quality time with other family members, meeting up with friends or simply having a break from the immense pressure of having a child with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition.”
The team at Brian House say they are really looking forward to developing the community service further to support local families who otherwise might choose not to receive hospice care.