Supporting families at Christmas

Christmas is always magical at EACH with families joining together to make precious memories and remember those who are no longer with us. This year – although we continue to remain cautious – our care team has been extra busy spreading seasonal cheer.

All our hospices hosted festive events including a magical Winter Wonderland allowing families to spend quality time together. Featuring snow machines, festive lights and, of course, a visit from the big jolly man himself – the events were thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who attended. Children were entertained by some musical elf visitors and Jack Frost the Shetland Pony.

We also hosted two pantomimes (Oh yes we did!) where families enjoyed the usual slapstick routines and audience participation. All our events were socially distanced, allowing families to feel safe and relaxed.

Some cheeky elves relatable to youngsters with life-threatening conditions arrived at The Treehouse to put a smile on the face of anyone who walked through the doors.

Santa’s trusty friends were extra special because they were custom-made to be relatable to youngsters receiving care and support. One had a tracheostomy and a nasogastric tube, for feeding. The other had a nasal cannular for oxygen.

EACH Clinical Nurse Specialist Rachel van den Brink-Budgen said: “The idea is that these elves are inclusive and children will relate to them in a way they might not otherwise. They are able to see elves that look the same as them or appear to have been through something similar. It’s very special.”

Whilst the festive season is a time to celebrate it can also be a challenging time for families, particularly those who have been bereaved. EACH runs a range of bereavement support services to help families through this tough time.

EACH Locality Wellbeing Lead, Pete Honig explains: “Christmas can be a difficult time for bereaved families and it never gets easier.

“As a society, it’s important to be understanding and sensitive and for those who have been bereaved to know other people aren’t afraid to mention their loss at these important times of the year.

“I’m sure many families have mixed emotions at this time of year, just as they do on certain other dates like birthdays and anniversaries.

“Our bereavement service is available to anyone who’s suffered the loss of a child – it’s there for everyone who’s been impacted and we want them to know they can turn to us for support. For bereaved families, knowing they can come to our service at any point in the future – sometimes months and even years later – is a comfort.”

We would like to wish everyone connected to EACH a very merry Christmas!

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