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Help us care for children like Sienna during difficult times

Help us care for children like Sienna during difficult times

Kay, Sienna’s Mum, has spoken out about their COVID-19 health scare and how Francesca, a Helen & Douglas House nurse specialist, saved their family from falling into crisis. Her daughter Sienna (aged 8) regularly stays at Helen & Douglas House, has a severe form of epilepsy and needs 24/7 care.

‘Our nightmare started in late March when Sienna started feeling unwell. Over the next thirty-six hours, she had suffered from 30 seizures and developed a cough and fever. After seeking NHS advice we reluctantly took her to Abingdon hospital. This is when the doctor confirmed she had symptoms of COVID-19. A scary thought for any parent, but for a parent of a child like Sienna, truly terrifying.

The next day things got worse. My husband and I had started to develop symptoms and we were petrified. What would happen to Sienna if we were too sick to care for her? And what would happen to our other two children if our conditions worsened? Our regular carers had been cancelled, respite care at the hospice wasn’t possible and we were desperate to avoid hospital.

Thankfully, Helen & Douglas House saved us. Their nurse specialist, Francesca, stepped in and gave us the vital clinical advice and the support we needed to avoid a crisis. She then rang us again every day until Sienna was out of danger. During our worst days of this virus, Francesca, and the hospice, made us feel less alone, eased our fears, and helped keep Sienna out of hospital.

We were lucky, we got through our COVID-19 nightmare and it is thanks to supporters like you who help make the work of the hospice, and nurse Francesca, possible. They helped save my family from a crisis and we want to make sure that they can continue to be there for comfort and reassurance through difficult days for other families. I know it’s a big ask, but could you donate £26 to us today? Your gift could help Helen & Douglas House, and nurse Francesca, to be there for other local families in crisis.’

Helen & Douglas House need your support now more than ever. Our shops are temporarily closed and our biggest fundraising events are postponed.

‘Being Mum for Sienna is like having a new-born baby for life. She cannot do anything for herself and therefore requires 24-hour care and monitoring. Her health is fragile and she is constantly dealing with illness and seizures which are worse when she gets a temperature. Looking after a childlike Sienna can consume much of my time, so having help is essential so that I can also be Mum to my other two children.

As a Mum to a special child you get down to the basics of what important for your child and they are happiness, comfort, and connection. Helen & Douglas House staff know this feeling too and that’s why they do what they do.’


It is now several weeks on since we caught up with Sienna’s family and they have all regained their strength and health, although dad Andy still has a slight cough. Our respite care team continue to regularly contact the family and will do so until we are able to safely welcome them back to the hospice. The family’s biggest challenge now is keeping Sienna and the family occupied during the prolonged lockdown, but Sienna’s mum Kay told us how they are coping with this. 

‘Now we are feeling better, we have all been getting out for walks, or runs, and have the time to enjoy things like the wildflowers, something we often miss during our busy lives. As a family we have also all got a little closer, with Sienna’s siblings, Ella, 14, and Jamie, 15, offering to help with her care, or with chores such as cooking or gardening. We are, however, really looking forward to coming back to Helen & Douglas House when it is safe to do so.’

Thank you for reading Sienna’s family story. The hospice still needs your support. With our shops still closed and many of our fundraising events cancelled, or postponed, every donation will make a difference to the care we can continue to provide.