Friday, January 18, 2008

Star Born

Aside

Yesterday I went with my friend Margaret and some Townswomen’s Guild members (I was a guest) to visit Charlton Farm – a Children’s Hospice which is nestled in the valley of Wraxall near Bristol It provides a secluded and beautiful setting where families and their sick children can take some time out enjoying life together as a family.

The children who use the Hospice will have Life Limiting, or Life Threatening Conditions, which mean that they are not expected to live into adulthood. Some families may use the hospice for many years, from the time the child is first diagnosed; they may come for planned respite, or for emergency care, depending on their needs and the support that the family request. Sometimes grand-parents are catered for.

A special carer looks after the needs of the sick child and siblings have their own special career if they require and are supported throughout the life of their brother or sister and the end of this life and following death. The sibling staff is able to provide bereavement activities and care specifically for the children and spend time focusing on their need and the needs of the whole family.

The hospice provides a special room, Star born; this is a room where children can lie after their death. It allows for a private space for families to say their goodbyes. It can be used by both the families whose child has died in the hospice as well as those who have died at home or in hospital.

This is the only week in the year when the Hospice is closed for maintenance but when I asked one of the volunteers if I could take photographs she told me that although they were closed they could never turn a child away – they had admitted a family and the child had died. Therefore parts of the Hospice would be closed to us.

She was visibly upset so I said not to worry; however later she told me it was perfectly alright to take photos as long as I didn’t take any of the staff. We spent the morning being shown round by one of the devoted volunteers and I think the pictures speak for themselves. As we left the Hospice an ambulance was arriving.

38 comments:

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh Pat....this is a fantastic place! It really amazed me to see all these pictures and the caring thought that has gone into this WONDERFUL place....It is deeply impressive! I don't know of any place like this here, though there may be some or ebem many...But I have never heard of them. It sounds like they have thought of everything and if they haven't they will include it if needed!
Magnificent Place.....And your pictures do tell a lot od the story....Thanks so much for this Pat.
How and why did you happen to go there? I'd love to know....
And incidentally...I see NO duplicate pictures, my dear...HOORAY for you!

rashbre said...

Deeply touching.

R. Sherman said...

The staff at such places really are heroes. I cannot imagine the strength it must take.

sablonneuse said...

What a truly wonderful place. It must take great strength of character not to get too emotionally involved in these circumstances.

MotörheadBlögger said...

A wonderful post PI, visiting such places can be an emotional and humbling experience. I once had the opportunity to visit a children's hospice caring for cancer patients while doing voluntary work it deeply affected me and my views on human dignity.
Thanks for posting the photos too.

Kim Ayres said...

It's January, isn't it...

PI said...

Naomi: My friend Margaret told me the Evening Townswomen's Guild were taking a coach to visit the Hospice. I was a member for about thirteen years but found the politics irked me and amicably resigned. However I am happy to go as a guest when they need to fill a coach and as sick children have been an important part of my life since I trained as a nurse I was eager to go. And I'm so glad I did.

Rashbre: even without the children it was very moving.

Randall: they are very special people and seem to radiate peace and love.

Sablonneuse: I don't think I could do it now. age has made me too emotional and I found the sadness of the helper brought tears to my eyes. Hopeless!

motor heasblogger: that must have been quite an experience. I hope they were as well cared for as the ones at Charlton Farm are.

Kim...but not for much longer - praise be!

barbie2be said...

what a wonderful place.

michele sent me to check it out.

Catherine said...

It looks like a wonderful place - the art work is so colourful, and I like the idea of a teenage room with no parents allowed :)
Here from Michele's today.

FOUR DINNERS said...

You made a tear pop out.

The words 'problems' and 'perspective' are in my head.

Thank you.

That monkey pretty much finished me off. x

Shane said...

An arresting post - one of those ones that are really good for re/gaining perspective.

Liked your pat/laid comment on Hoss' blog.

PI said...

Hi Barbie2b!

Catherine : when they get on those drums not many parents would want to join them:)

4d: at least we have made some progress-if you think back to when you were a lad. Then parents, in that position, were just left to cope as best they could.

Shane: oh dear! I'll have to watch what I say. Thank you for pointing it out:)

Carmi said...

Thank you for sharing this remarkable place with us. Pat. I spent a great deal of time in hospital when I was a child. We didn't have anything like this back then, and some of the kids I spent time with could have used this kind of respite.

Michele sent me to muse over the angels you met when you visited this incredible place.

Eryl Shields said...

You get to go to the most amazing places Pat. This one's tops. Thanks for reminding me that such places exist, therefore making me reflect on why they need to.

Keith said...

That is a very touching post. I don't think I would be brave enough to visit a place like that, unless of course I knew a child there.

I love children, but to work somewhere like that would destroy me completely. Thanks for the eVisit via your pictures, it looks absolutely beautiful.

I lost my son 12 years ago to cancer and I still find it hard.

Nea said...

You have documented it beautifully and it's good to know that there are such places for those who need them.

Makes me realize how lucky I am.

Thanks Pat!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

A fine post about an excellent location.

Michele sent me here.

PI said...

Carmi: it's nice to know there are angels around.

Eryl: I'm glad you didn't find it depressing because it is an inspirational place.

Keith: you would be braave enough after what you have coped with. I'm so sorry love.

Nea: it 's the second one opened near Bristol and there is one near Barnstaple - all children's ones. We are lucky indeed.

craziequeen said...

Hi Pat, Michele sent me to see what you've been up to.

Isn't this place a marvel? It must be such a relief for the children and their families to be somewhere so comforting during such difficult times.

cq

HRH Courtney, Queen of Everything said...

Oh, my goodness, what a place. The Star room reminds me of the passage in A Christmas Carol, where Bob Cratchit sits with Tiny Tim in his room after he's died.
Michele sent me.

Shephard said...

Truly amazing. It's very comforting to know that there are places like this. It's a beautiful facility. As it should be.
Thanks for sharing the photos.

Michele says hello!
~S

colleen said...

Wow. I'm glad I was led here today by Michele to be so touched. I love the idea of death as a Star Birth. I'm grateful for the people that do this work. Thanks for the photo tour.

Roland said...

Michele sent me to thank you for your kind words on my blog earlier.
I am moved beyond words at your description of this place.

WendyWings said...

Michele sent me today, the star born room sounds amazing. What a special thing to be able to visit.

Dara said...

Helping people become comfortable with the inevitable is so important. To have such a lovely and loving place that recognizes the needs of the family as well as the child is so welcome. Michele and I thank you for sharing your musings and photos.

Bob-kat said...

What a wonderful place with such dedicated staff. It is great that you got to tour this facility and share it with us.

I thought I would drop by adn say hi as you followed me at Michele's and it's been awhile since I said hi. When you pop by you'll find that Randall passed on something you gave to him! :)

PI said...

Bob-Kat: congratulations. Well deserved.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Michele sent be back here. This was an excellent post.

Kanani said...

What an incredible place. Knock on wood there are places like this. It's beautiful, really. Very moving and that little room with the single bed. Well, that's sad.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I love hospices, adults' ones and childrens' ones. They're ace, and we're so lucky to have them.

PI said...

Jean-Luc: thank you.

Kanani: heart lifting places I think.

Zinnia: I worked for five years supporting our local adult one in a shop, but have not visited it. I hear from a woman who lost two friends there that it is wonderful. I remember going to see Diana open it but she didn't seem to recognise me:)

granny p said...

I'm so glad there is such a place. Just hope there's lots and lots of them. Particularly struck by their concern for siblings. Their distress is so often forgotten - used to be just brushed away.

PI said...

Granny p: Do you remember there used to be a St Joseph's in London for the dying- maybe there still is - and I remember an old nun saying in a strong Irish accent that none of them suffered any pain after they had St Joseph's mixture - a mixture of morphine and alcohol.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Hi Pat....Michele sent me back once again to see your wonderful pictures one-more-time! Thanks for explaining to me how you happened to go there....
Isn't it terrible that so often the "politics" of a place or organization, just reduces it all to a maze of egos that have nothing to do with the real goal!
I have seen it happen so very often....And left some organizations myself, for the very same reasons. What is that??? The purity of purpose gets all corrupoted by the power hungry egoists! HELP & OY!

PI said...

Naomi: the funny thing was, there were three new people who were trying their darndest to get me to join again. Margaret said 'She won't!'
Time for bed now. Night night!

Guyana-Gyal said...

Pat, this is beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.

PI said...

GG: that just about sums it up.

Sam, Problemchildbride said...

What we would do without these incredible folk who ease the transition, I don't know. They are beautiful people and their's is beautiful work, however tragic.