“Having a child with such complex health needs can be very draining, though rewarding on all the family. EACH understand that and give care and support to every member of the family.
I feel blessed we have them to give us that emotional and physical support.”
That is how much East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) means to Kirstie, mum and full-time carer to Michael Latta, three, who started Spring Common Academy in September, her husband Robert, who works in Cambridge, and daughter Emily, four, who attends Holywell C of E Primary School.
Michael was born very early at 34 weeks. He has achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, chronic lung disease, meaning he requires a 24/7 supply of oxygen, central and obstructive sleep apnea, meaning he needs non-invasive ventilation at night, a gastrostomy feeding device, an undiagnosed genetic condition, limited head control and was recently diagnosed with von Willebrand's Disease, too.
Michael benefits from short stays at EACH’s Milton hospice, giving his family, from Needingworth, some respite. He has also been offered hydrotherapy at the hospice to help his muscle tone.
Kirstie said: “The fact we can leave Michael with people trained and competent to look after him [is most beneficial]. Due to his medical needs, getting a babysitter is very hard and we rarely get time together as husband and wife. Having the time with Emily is great, too, as Michael takes the limelight a lot of the time.”
The family also benefit from weekly two-hour visits as part of EACH Help at Home, the charity’s newest service that matches volunteers to families so they can provide practical support such as cleaning, cooking, driving and gardening. Kirstie describes the service as “amazing” and her volunteer as “like an extension to our family”.
Kirstie added: “Thanks to EACH we have got to meet so many inspiring families and children. One of my favourite memories was our trip to the local agricultural college. Both children had the most amazing time and we got to meet some truly amazing people. It can be very easy to feel self-pity, but through meeting other families you appreciate the strength and uniqueness of each and every one and you really start to recognise this in your own."