Dec 21, 2017 - 3min read
Amid the battle of competing refer-a-friend schemes – with energy suppliers jumping over each other to attract new customers through various monetary rewards – we’ve decided to go a different route this Christmas. For every successful referral to Tonik this month we are donating £100 to children’s charity WellChild.
But this is just the beginning of what we hope will be a long and fruitful partnership with WellChild. The festive period has always been a time when charity and generosity are at the forefront of people’s minds, and we hope to harness this goodwill. But when Christmas is over we want to continue raising awareness – and funds – for the charity in the long term. After all, these problems don’t simply go away. With this in mind, we thought we’d delve into the inspirational work undertaken by a charity that has Prince Harry as its patron and counts Duncan Ballantine, Alexandra Burke and Emily Maitlis among its wide-ranging list of ambassadors.
The WellChild vision
There are over 100,000 children with serious health issues across the UK and many spend months, even years, in hospital. WellChild’s vision is to enable these children to live at home with their families – the place WellChild believes offers the best chance for them to thrive.
Psychologically, the normality of living at home can be hugely beneficial and this can also translate into physical wellbeing too. Take Rhys, for example, who was in hospital on a ventilator 24/7 but, with the help of WellChild nurses, was able to leave hospital and eventually cope without a ventilator altogether.
Dorian Ursell, WellChild’s head of corporate fundraising says, “A child in hospital can have around 25 to 30 health care professionals, which can include GPs, occupational therapists, psychologists, dieticians and more. So it can be quite a menagerie of people to deal with and quite stressful for the parents.”
He continues, “Some children are stuck in hospital not because they need to be there medically, but because there isn’t the opportunity for them to be cared for at home. Parents might not want their child home because they worry they can’t look after them properly. They also worry that carers in their community are not equipped to deal with emergency situations or their specific medical needs.”
Noah, for example, was born with an extremely rare condition called Lanryngomalacia – the only child in the UK with this disease – plus a lung condition that required him to be on a ventilator at night. Noah spent nearly a year in hospital but with the help of WellChild nurse, Elaine O’Brien, her parents were able to take Noah home and care for him there.
Noah’s mother, Jill, says, “Elaine spoke to us in a language that we understood and provided amazing practical and emotional support, making sure our voice was heard by all the different health professionals and carers involved in getting Noah home.”
Better At Home
The ‘Better At Home’ suite – set up by WellChild in collaboration with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Edge Hill University – is an initiative designed to give parents more confidence in looking after their child at home.
Dorian says, “The suite has been designed like a flat and has mannequins that parents can practice emergency procedures on. This gives them the confidence to perform the procedures at home, so they don’t need to go back into hospital. It is also filmed so the parents can watch their training when they are at home”
WellChild’s plan is to set up more of these, whether they be at other hospitals around the country or as mobile units.
In addition to the amazing work their nurses do, WellChild also runs a programme called Helping Hands which facilitates bedroom and garden makeovers to suit the individual child’s needs.
Dorian says, “When a family applies to us for a bedroom or garden makeover, we then get a local corporate company on board and a group of volunteers to carry out the project.”
He continues, “For example, one child we care for suffers from pica, a condition where he tries to put everything in his mouth. This is stressful for the parents who know their child can’t be left unaided outside. We helped create a garden with astroturf that was safe for him to play in.”
It can be upsetting to see what families who have children with complex medical needs go through, but at the same time it is heartening to see such children and their families flourish at home with the aid of WellChild’s care, education and management. At Tonik we believe WellChild is a hugely worthwhile charity and encourage you to get involved – why not donate directly to the charity here.