This Hospice Care Week we’re sharing Esme’s story to highlight the importance of local children’s hospice care.
Esme is a very happy little eight year old. She has severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy as well as seizures. This means she is unable to support her head unaided, walk or talk. She has been coming to Acorns in Birmingham for short breaks for six years – it has become her home from home.
Her mum Jenna explains: “When Esme first started going to Acorns she was very particular as to who would look after her and really anxious. Seeing her go there the first time being scared and worried was hard, it was a scary situation and when you’ve got a child like Esme it’s so hard to leave them.
“But they changed all that, they made her feel comfortable, loved and cared for. Over the years, Acorns has become like a second family to us, I wouldn’t leave Esme with anyone else. I know that they can care for Esme exactly how I care for her.”
In March 2020, Acorns made the unprecedented decision to temporarily close our hospice in Birmingham as part of our emergency response to the emerging coronavirus crisis and offered the facility to the NHS to provide additional beds for covid patients of all ages, if needed.
This allowed us to continue to prioritise children’s hospice care and provide emergency and end of life care for every family that needed it, including those from Birmingham, from our other two hospices in Walsall and Worcester.
While our specially trained Family Services teams continued to provide much-needed emotional and practical support for over 600 isolating families including those from Birmingham.
Still, the past 18 months have been difficult for families like Jenna’s. So much was unknown that Jenna’s family spent 100 days locked down in their home to protect Esme and keep her safe.
“When it first happened it was such a scary time with the uncertainty of what was going to happen, and we didn’t know how we were going to cope. We were told to shield Esme as she was deemed to be vulnerable.”
Over the course of the pandemic, the hospice in Selly Oak gradually reintroduced day services, including vital hydrotherapy and music therapy sessions and Stay and Play groups before finally reopening for short breaks in September.
Esme was the first child through the doors for an overnight stay as we once again welcomed Birmingham families back to their local hospice. She was greeted with a ribbon cutting ceremony and round of applause.
“I’m absolutely over the moon have Acorns back open, not only for myself but for all the other families that have been through exactly the same as us. Also for the staff, to see their faces smiling and beaming. It was just an incredible feeling and it was really emotional.
“It’s such a wonderful place to go, seeing all the children’s faces happy and smiling. When you hear the word hospice it’s a scary word and you imagine the worst. But it’s nothing like that at all. It’s a beautiful place and anyone who goes there will say the same.”