The Smith family have featured in a film talking about the support they receive from EACH and the progress Bethany has made since using their services. This will be shown to guests on the night of the Gala Dinner.
You can watch Bethany's Story here
Six year-old Bethany Smith receives care from EACH. Bethany was admitted to Addenbrookes at the start of January 2012 suffering from bronchiolitis and a collapsed lung. She has a neuromuscular condition meaning that her muscles are not as strong as they should be. In addition, she has been diagnosed with chest infection susceptibility which affects her respiratory and immune systems. For this Bethany uses an overnight ventilator to help build up her energy and protect her chest.
Since June 2014 Bethany has been receiving hydrotherapy and dedicated physio and occupational therapy work through EACH.
Before Bethany started hydrotherapy she had very poor head control and was unable to sit unaided, crawl or stand. Bethany’s hydrotherapy sessions have been designed to strengthen and improve her muscle control, particularly in her head and torso as well as to improve her respiratory function and encourage independent movement.
The first block of hydrotherapy, saw big improvements for Bethany and she started to gain better control of her head which immediately improved her posture. She was aware of how she was improving and wanted to do more. After a year of sessions, she gained enough control over her muscles to roll around the floor independently and start to push herself up. It was at this stage that EACH offered some additional physio and occupational therapy work outside the pool.
Bethany’s parents, Caroline and Steve, said: "Bethany has benefited immensely from these sessions and has achieved so much with the fantastic support of Debra and the EACH team. The progress she has made is wonderful, she’s gone from being unable to support her head or sit up on her own to being able to support her head, sit up unaided and shuffle along the floor. Once she has even managed to stand with a small amount of support from us – which was just an amazing moment.
"She has come on leaps and bounds in her hydro sessions, and most recently she has started to walk along a platform in the water. Bethany is a happy bright little girl and her improvements in the pool have spurred her onto work just as hard in her sessions in the Sensory room at Quidenham (EACH's old Norfolk hospice). All her sessions have been designed to strengthen her muscles to improve her overall mobility. She loves her time at EACH and we’re all so pleased with how much she has come on in the time she’s been working with the team. Bethany is now able to sit independently meaning in the future she’ll be able to control a powered wheelchair which will give her more independence – something which is so important to her.
"This has made such a difference to her life, both at home and at school."
Unlike our old hospice in Quidenham our new building, The Nook, will have a include an onsite hydrotherapy pool meaning we will be able to offer these invaluable service to many more families.
Steve, explained: "Currently the hydro sessions are a 45 minute trip each way and I have to take three hours out off work for a 20 or 30 minute session. The Reepham pool has limited availability as it’s a community hired pool so the time we get in there is limited. An EACH pool at the new hospice would make so much difference to us a family as well as so many other families who use EACH. More sessions would be available and Bethany would benefit even further from this new facility. We’d also be able to use the pool during our short break care at the hospice as a family, which would be very special. We aren’t able to visit regular swimming pools as they are too cold for Bethany’s muscles."
Bethany’s whole family including Steve, Caroline and her sisters Bonnie, Adele and Karen, also receive support and spend time at EACH which enables Bethany and her sisters to have fun time together.
Caroline, said: "The home services we receive are so beneficial to us all, as is the time spent at the hospice as a family. Bethany and her sisters do all sorts of things from making frozen castles, painting, arts and crafts to treasure hunts and lots more. It allows us as parents some quiet time to relax and also spend time together as a family with activities we can all do.
"We can’t put into words how much of a difference EACH makes to our family. The team there are absolutely fantastic and have included Bethany in so many different events and activities, we can all see her confidence and independence has grown.
"When people ask us about EACH, we can't sing higher praise than we do - for what they have been able to do for us as a family has been truly amazing and we couldn't thank them enough.