Young people with life-limiting conditions are being encouraged to stay connected thanks to Martin House Hospice Care for Children and Young People.
The hospice has been holding weekly virtual get-togethers on Zoom for young people using its service since June, as a way of helping them stay in touch.
Mary Newbegin, transition and discharge co-ordinator lead at Martin House, said:
We’ve been keeping in touch with young people since lockdown, and the more we talked to them, the more we realised that many of them haven’t gone out of the house apart from hospital appointments.
If we phone them, they often need a family member to hold the phone for them, but once they’re set up on Zoom, they have more independence over it.
It also gives them the chance to see each other – which is important, as a big part of coming to Martin House has always been the chance to socialise with their peers. Covid-19 is making living at home a lonely place for a lot of our young people, but seeing each other makes them realise they are not alone.
Many of them will call Martin House their second home, so they come to see familiar faces, both each other and members of the care team, who get as much out of it as they do. It’s a very informal thing, so they can dip in and out as much as they like.
Martin House, which cares for babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions from across West, North and East Yorkshire, has had to change the way it provides care to families as a result of the pandemic.
It includes limiting the number of beds, staggering meals and using communal spaces on a rota to ensure social distancing, while care staff are in full PPE.
If someone is thinking about coming in for a stay, we can talk to them about it, and those who have been in can give them an insight into what it’s like staying here during Covid. It’s nice they can share their perspectives, and it’s encouraged some to come.
“The calls are a chance for us to give them information, and we’ve been able to solve a few problems for people. But it’s also a chance for a general chat, talk about football, or what they’ve been watching on TV.
Up to eight young people attend the weekly calls, with around 20 taking part so far. Mary is planning to introduce more focused groups, including one for younger teenagers, and bringing in more external professionals who can give extra support and information.
We’ve also got some fun stuff planned, so we’ve got some quizzes for Christmas and new year, and they’re getting involved in some advent calendar activities we’re planning, and one of the young people put her own quiz together for our Halloween meeting.
It costs nearly £9 million a year to run Martin House. To find out how you can help, visit www.martinhouse.org.uk.