By Rebecca Ford, Director of ND Care and Support, which provides care services to children, young adults and older people throughout Wales, either through local authorities and health boards, or for those who directly arrange for private care.
When you work in the Care sector, the word care can sometimes lose its essence and true meaning – that was brought to the fore for me recently when our team worked tirelessly to bring a very ill young boy home for Christmas.
This four year old, who I’ve called Sam to protect his true identity, has been critically ill since birth and in and out of hospital since then, as he has significant health needs. This year has been particularly challenging for him and most of it has been spent in one hospital setting or another.
We have been working with Sam and his family since April 2021, so are well versed with his needs, both clinically and on a day-to-day care basis. When he is home, we visit him and his family multiple times a day. He is a wonderful young boy, who has had a really tough start in life, so to be able to help him in this way has been very rewarding.
Over the past few months, we have been working with his family, his clinical team and the local authority on a way that we can take over his whole care package and bring him home. Once it was agreed, we set to working out a plan to get Sam home for Christmas.
This, as anyone who works in our industry knows, was not an easy task. With so many stakeholders involved in Sam’s care, all of which have an important role to play in his health and wellbeing, it was a methodical process, but one that we were determined to bring to fruition.
Making home care happen
His five key carers from our ND Care and Support team had just eight weeks to get the correct training they needed to allow them to give Sam the care he needed once he was home. They did this without question, keen to learn, keen to help and desperate to work towards our big goal, which was to get Sam home for Christmas.
Working with the clinical teams who were caring for Sam was great, as we learnt a lot about their procedures and requirements. Of course, getting him home meant that we were also freeing up a hospital bed which are so desperately needed.
But of course, the greatest reward was getting to see Sam come home, to see him interacting with his siblings and having his family around him at Christmas.
The icing on the cake was when we could take Sam to see Santa. New Directions Group (our parent company) through its ‘Giving Back’ programme has been offering children in the local community near our Cardiff headquarters the chance to see Santa for free. The thinking behind Santa’s grotto is that during a time when the cost of living is so high, families can go somewhere warm and make memories without having to worry about the cost – and so Sam was able to take advantage of this and get some one-on-one time with Father Christmas.
Seeing his face light up when he chatted to Santa was a memory I shall treasure for a long time, and the words his guardian said will also ring in my ears, as she told us: “it is a memory I will hold in my heart forever. It was so touching. Nobody has ever done anything like this for my family before.” It really brought to the fore how much we do care, how much working in Care is often a case of going over and above for those we look after. I know many of our team do more than they are paid for several times a day – whether that be staying on to make an extra cup of tea for someone or holding a hand for ten minutes longer – which we can all lose sight of during our busy schedules with many time constraints and pressures.
Sam’s story brought back to me why I first came to work in the Care sector, what I love about this industry and how much the little things we do can make such a massive difference to people’s lives, not just at Christmas but every day after.