We couldn’t have done what we’ve done without the support of Brian House
I’ve lost track of exactly how many children my husband Ken and I have fostered and adopted over the last thirty years but it is well over a hundred; many of whom have benefitted from the care provided by Brian House Children’s Hospice.
In 1983 we adopted our first child with complex needs. Our GP at the time was Dr Cooper, the founder of Trinity Hospice. Dr Cooper recognised that there wasn’t anywhere suitable where children with disabilities could go for respite and made provision for two children to be cared for at the new Trinity Hospice. The demand for a specialist children’s unit grew and in 1996 Brian House opened.
Ken and I consciously chose to support children who because of their conditions were ‘hard to find homes for’ and over the years we’ve cared for children with a range of disabilities including several with Cerebral Palsy, renal failure, liver and bowel disease, brain injuries, chromosome abnormalities, seizures and wheelchair dependents. Brian House has helped us care for all these children and we’ve accessed the whole host of services; day care, overnight respite and the Butterfly Suite.
The staff at Brian House are truly wonderful and really understand the individual needs of children and their parents. One little boy we adopted had a severe brain injury, in his younger years he screamed constantly and had multiple seizures, he rarely slept and caring for him was challenging. In addition to the planned overnight stays, whenever there was a last minute cancellation for respite, the staff would call us and ask if we’d like to use it – it was most appreciated.
On some occasions I’ve called Brian House in the middle of the night simply to ask for advice, their support has been invaluable. Prior to fostering and adopting, I had no experience or training of looking after children with such complex needs. The children have inspired us and Brian House staff has always been there to support us.
Owing to the conditions of the children we’ve cared for, numerous children have died. After the death of our first child, we weren’t sure how we could cope looking after another child knowing that they were going to die – it was Brian House staff who gave us the confidence to continue. Unbeknown to many but available to all parents in the area who’ve suffered a child bereavement, Brian House offers a facility known as the ‘Butterfly Suite’. It is an alternative to children staying at a funeral home.
We’ve used the Butterfly Suite on several occasions. Because Brian House is open 24 hours a day, parents can be with their child at any time, day or night. They are able to stay overnight or visit when they can’t sleep in the middle of the night. For us, the Butterfly Suite made the parting easier.
Brian House has not only helped us through traumatic times but they have shared good times with us too. Two of our children have been baptised at in the chapel at Trinity and like us the staff have seen several of the children flourish into young adults.
My husband died a few years ago and I will be retiring from fostering full time in the near future. I’ve had the most amazing life I could have ever wished for – caring for the children has given us so much joy but I stress that we couldn’t have done what we’ve done without the support of Brian House.