Last Sunday was Father’s Day, a special time for many families, with people making a special effort to visit their father, send cards or deliver gifts. For our families the day can be extra special or poignant. It may have been the last Father’s day they get to spend with their child, or it might be their first since losing a child.
Whilst many of us may have bought ties or socks for our Fathers this year, for the Fathers of children who use the hospice, often the most precious gift is a smile or a wave from their child. Some of the children we care for cannot communicate in the same way as other children, so we strive to provide ways children and their families can interact with each other.
Over at the House our Magic Carpet Room and Multi-sensory Room are both great examples of this. By stimulating the senses through light and touch, often we find children express themselves with a smile, or a tighter grip when holding hands, or an expressive sound.
And our Community Team try to bring some of this into families’ own homes too. We have portable sensory equipment that we can take on visits with us, and our Nurses and Care Support Workers know their families so well that they can be sure to bring a smile to child’s face with a favourite toy, book or song.
Days in the calendar like Father’s Day can be difficult for the parents and families we care for. Every day spent with their child is treated as a precious gift – something we should all remember to do.
A sad farewell to our President
The preciousness of life was brought home to us this week as we learned of the death of Lady Sarah Clutton, who has been President of St Barnabas Hospices (which includes Chestnut Tree and our adult hospice St Barnabas) since 1996.
She was a dedicated supporter of Chestnut Tree, allowing us to build on her land at a rent of £1 a year, accompanied by a bunch of Lilies on her birthday. She took a great interest in the hospice and would always stop to chat to the families to check we were doing a good job.
She always hated any fuss, and if you called her ‘Lady’ Sarah you would always get told off or receive one of her looks. Frequently, our staff would see her when they walked up the lane next to Chestnut Tree with the children, and she would always stop for a chat.
Many of our staff and families, including myself, are very upset that Lady Sarah has passed away, and have been sharing all of the lovely memories she has left us with. She really will be sorely missed by so many.