Despite closing their day centre and stopping respite breaks due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Chestnut Tree House in West Sussex has found an innovative way to keep in touch with the local children and families it supports.
Along with regular phone calls and online storytelling, the hospice care team is putting together personalised craft packs to be delivered straight to families’ doorsteps.
The Easter holidays are usually a very busy time at the hospice, with themed arts and crafts, visits from animals and baking among other activities, however this year things are rather different. Activities Team Lead Karen Ezard explains: “We sadly had to close Chestnut Tree House for routine short break admissions in line with Government guidelines for social distancing of vulnerable groups. But, we are continuing to ensure community-based services are available and we contact each of the 300 families we support on a weekly basis to discuss their individual needs.”
“The main thing that families are concerned about when we speak to them, is what they are going to do to keep the whole family occupied throughout this tough time. Isolating at home with a child with complex needs for twelve weeks or more is necessary, but also extremely difficult, so we are keeping in touch to try and help alleviate any struggles. We want families to know that we are here for them – now and in the future.”
To continue helping families create special memories together, the care team rallied together to take in-house activities straight to children’s doorsteps. “In normal circumstances, every day there is something different going on at the hospice” Karen says. “From messy play with glitter and sparkles, to having a cuddle with Louie the baby meerkat or the chance to be the captain on a speedboat adventure. So we wanted to package all that fun, love and laughter up and gift it to the families”.
“The care team will take the craft packages on their visits to a family, or if the family are self-isolating, we will drop them on their doorstep and chat to them from the car”.
“Each package is personalised for each family too. For example, we have just created a football-themed pack for a little boy who loves football. It has colouring pages, football stickers, all sorts! We also make sure we include the siblings too, so the pack is something they can all do together, giving them something to distract themselves with”.
For more information visit Chestnut Tree House