Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW) is dedicated to making the most of short and precious lives, and the care offered is not just about medical and nursing support, but also enriching the lives of children and their whole families.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in its sibling provision. CHSW has a dedicated sibling service at each of its three hospices to provide care, support and entertainment for well brothers and sisters.
It can be hard being the sibling of child with a life-limiting condition. There are often times where parents have to concentrate their day to day efforts around the child with a life-limiting condition. This is something that school friends may not fully understand and how day to day life can be quite different for you as a family.
Matt Pearson knows first-hand how important CHSW’s sibling service is. Now 28, Matt first visited the charity’s Little Bridge House hospice with his brother, step Mum and Dad 16 years ago.
Matt’s brother, Darrell, had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare and degenerative disease of which there is no cure. Matthew and Darrell visited Little Bridge House together for over five years before Darrell became to unwell to travel from Bristol, before passing away aged 16 in early 2008. Matt explains why the visits to Little Bridge House were so important to him:
Our family’s experience of Little Bridge House was always positive. The team was always really accommodating and, as we had our own rooms, it always felt like a little holiday for us. I remember some really good weekends there. The sibling team were just brilliant and arranged lots of fun things for us to do so it was a real chance to escape reality for a while. Living in a village, Darrell was the only boy at school in a wheelchair and although I had good friends, none of them really understood or could relate to the situation fully. Being able to talk to other brothers and sisters who knew exactly what it was like having a sibling with a life-limiting condition was so helpful, and really helped me to understand it all as we had a common purpose. The sibling’s weekends that I attended were a real highlight for all us and we quickly became friends. Little Bridge House gave our family a wider support network and the building and its care had a great impact on me which has remained to this day.’
Married now with a young son of his own, Matt was keen for his wife and son to visit Little Bridge House, and he contacted the hospice to see if he could visit on the 10th anniversary of Darrell’s death.
It was an emotional reunion with many of the staff remaining from his previous visits years ago. Matt was delighted to see that much was the same: the games room, Narnia sensory garden and big dining table whilst areas such as the art and crafts room, soft play and jacuzzi room had all been upgraded.
Matt continued: ‘Our visits to Little Bridge House many years ago were always something we as a family looked forward to and they remain an important part of my family history. I wanted my new family to see what my family holidays were like growing up and see the place that meant so much to us and Darrell.
The care and support that CHSW provided both myself and my family has always been extremely high and I thank the entire team for making the latest trip possible, it meant a lot!’