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Short breaks


Our specialist short breaks offer nurse-led clinical care for babies; children and young people with highly complex, palliative care needs, providing day care for a few hours or a longer period of days/weeks as required. Most short breaks are delivered in the hospice but can also be provided within a family’s home.

Each child has a personal care plan that is tailored for their individual medical, emotional, cultural, religious and spiritual needs, which is delivered by an experienced and qualified multi-disciplinary team of professionals including:

  • A medical director
  • A team of GPs who make daily visits to the hospice and are on call 24/7
  • Registered children’s nurses (including qualified nurse prescribers)
  • Health care assistants (HCAs)
  • Physiotherapists
  • Adolescent workers

The hospices provide a fully accessible and specially equipped, home-from-home environment with ten specially decorated bedrooms for the children. Specialist facilities and equipment, including beds and sleeping systems, hoists and hydraulic baths; enable a child’s stay to mirror the routine and care provided at home.

Acorns short breaks

During an Acorns short break you can expect all of the following:

  • Development and delivery of an individual care plan for each child to include:
    • Medical management, including medication and treatment
    • Personal care needs
    • Pain management
    • Symptom control*
    • Dietary requirements (medical, cultural and religious)
    • Spiritual, religious or cultural needs
  • Provision of specialist equipment within the hospice environment including beds and sleeping systems, hoists throughout the building, hydraulic baths, etc
  • Provision of physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and complementary therapies by qualified professionals
  • Activities including arts & crafts, play, music and dance sessions
  • Visits from magicians, circus performers, petting zoos and theatre groups
  • The opportunity for outings - from a walk to the shops or cinema visit to a coach trip to the zoo or the beach
  • Age specific or themed activities including youth weekends and pre-school play groups
  • Access to facilities including multisensory rooms, hydrotherapy pools and spas, up-to-date IT equipment and landscaped gardens
  • The option of on-site family accommodation for families who need or choose to stay near their child
  • End of life care and emergency support

*Symptom management is the management of common symptoms associated with life-limiting conditions. It is often used to refer to symptoms that are primarily physical, but in palliative care symptom management also includes attention to psycho-social and spiritual aspects of symptoms where appropriate.

Families can also stay at the hospice in family accommodation during their child’s stay if required.

Short breaks offer the opportunity for children and young people with complex health needs to be fully cared for by trained professionals. They may allow the whole family to be together and to be supported in the care of their child, or it may offer care solely for the child or young person.

“A machine monitors Luke’s breathing at night and sets off an alarm to let us know about any problems. He can’t shout or cry out if he’s in distress so we have to listen out throughout the night. He wakes at 4am most mornings so we often don’t get a full night’s sleep. Stays at Acorns mean we can rest and recuperate.” - Luke's mum

What are the benefits of short breaks?

The benefits of short breaks with Acorns are:

  • Providing a rest from caring, helping restore a sense of normality to family life
  • Providing the child or young person with an opportunity to enjoy social interaction and leisure facilities
  • Spending time with peers helps reduce isolation for a child or young person
  • Enabling parents and families to take a break – this may be to recharge their batteries or spend time with other children for example
  • Providing children and young people with therapeutic experiences that bring about cognitive stimulation
  • Encouraging confidence, independence and improved social skills in children and young people

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