We are delighted to announce that The Duchess of Cornwall and The Duchess of Cambridge have hosted a joint video call with three of their respective children’s hospice Patronages, including Helen & Douglas House, to mark this year’s Children’s Hospice Week. Their Royal Highnesses wanted to thank all those involved in and supporting children’s hospices across the UK during this critical time.
Children’s Hospice Week 2020, organised by the UK charity, Together for Short Lives, takes place between 22 – 28 June to celebrate and raise vital funds for the UK’s 54 children’s hospices.
Helen & Douglas House have not only been supporting local children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also providing crucial additional capacity for NHS services to stop them reaching breaking point. This is at a time when income from charity shops and community fundraising has been dramatically reduced and public support is needed now more than ever.
Their Royal Highnesses were joined on the video call by Clare Periton, Chief Executive of Helen & Douglas House, of which The Duchess of Cornwall is Patron.
Also on the call were Eddie Farwell, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Children’s Hospice South West, of which The Duchess of Cornwall is Patron. Eddie’s two children were cared for by Helen & Douglas House before he set up Children’s Hospice South West as well as the Delf Family, a recently bereaved family whose son received end-of-life care at East Anglia Children’s Hospices, of which The Duchess of Cambridge is Patron.
During the call, Their Royal Highnesses discussed the comprehensive care that hospice staff provide, and the way that children’s hospices are able to create positive environments and happy memories during the most difficult of times.
The Duchess of Cornwall said during the call ‘I was going to start by describing what it felt like when I first went to visit a children’s hospice and that was Helen & Douglas House which I think was about 13 years ago. I have to admit before the first visit I was filled with a certain amount of trepidation because I was not sure what I was going to find. Whether I was going to find a sad, unhappy place or what I was going to find. Any way when I arrived, I was totally amazed by what I found. The feeling of warmth, and laughter and happiness and welcome. The nurses and carers who look after the children are the most wonderful people. It was so uplifting and the opposite to what I thought it was going to be.’
The Duchess of Cambridge then asked the hospices how things were going at the moment with the pandemic.
Clare Periton, Chief Executive of Helen & Douglas House said ‘Our doctors and nurses have never done as many home visits. They have had to find different ways of working and deal with whole new situations in the community which are much more complex than we would have dealt with before.
‘Some of our families just don’t want to come out of their homes so actually it about putting them first and how we can look after them. All our staff are in scrubs and they look very children friendly as they can as well as having to wear PPE. We are trying to think of different ways of adapting our service so that we can be safe yet responsive.
‘It’s really hard actually. At the moment we’re having to do things from a distance so we’ve been using the garden a lot. For the family of the little boy who died a week last Saturday, we were able to have his grandparents not in the building but in the garden and the weather’s been good which helps, so it’s looking at ingenious ways of how we can help that to happen.’
The Duchess of Cornwall, commending the work of children’s hospices at this difficult time said: “We’d like to thank everybody that works for hospices across the UK for the incredible job you do and allowing families to treasure their moments together.” Speaking about the nurses and carers that look after children in hospices, The Duchess described them as “the most wonderful people” that “inspire happiness”.
The Duchess of Cambridge called the work of children’s hospices “extraordinary”, adding: “It’s a credit to the staff that they can provide the environment, the nurturing space for those families to help them go through long or short term care. It’s really awe-inspiring”.
Clare Periton said ‘It was wonderful to have this video call with HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and HRH the Duchess of Cambridge to celebrate Children’s Hospice Week to highlight the work we, and other children’s hospices around the country, are doing to help local families with terminally ill children throughout the pandemic. Our families need our support more than ever as they are facing some of the toughest times they have ever faced whilst shielding at home and we couldn’t do this without the wonderful donations from our supporters.’
Local terminally ill children need your help right now so please, if you can, make a donation today.