THIS Hospice Care Week (8th-14th October), St Oswald’s Hospice, based in Gosforth, is highlighting the one of a kind services they provide at the heart of the North East.

Parents of two children living with life-shortening conditions have spoken about how using St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice has given the whole family a well-earned rest.

Jemma and Aaron Meek from South Tyneside have two children, Callum, aged 10 and Lana, aged 3 who have a very rare condition called CSTB gene. It’s is so rare that the children are the only two in the country diagnosed with the condition.

St Oswald’s Hospice provides short breaks and respite for children with incurable conditions from across the region, plus support for families. It’s the only service caring for children and young adults from South Tyneside that provides the medical support and respite that is needed for Callum and Lana, whose condition affects their ability to see, move and communicate, amongst other medical needs such as epilepsy.

Mum Jemma is the children’s full-time carer, and talks about how the support from St Oswald’s helps the whole family:

“Lana and Callum have a very rare condition and St Oswald’s is the only place that can cater for their complex needs. Callum previously attended a respite centre but the care was led by carers and wasn’t fit for his medical needs. At St Oswald’s the service is nurse-led so I know that I am leaving the children in safe hands.

“As the children’s full time carer, I’m very lucky that grandparents help out but when the children come to St Oswald’s it gives the whole family a break, including Callum and Lana who come to the Hospice for three nights a month.”

Talking about the specialist care at St Oswald’s, Jemma continued:

“Often, people are too scared to look after Callum and Lana as they have such complex needs, but straight away the nurses and other staff at St Oswald’s took over the children’s care. The care is great and it made leaving them overnight so much easier knowing that they settled there so easily.

“As well as giving my husband Aaron and I a break, the children enjoy going to the Hospice. Lana loves the music therapy and Callum likes that he gets to go out and about on trips, something we don’t often get to do as it’s so hard to do with both of them.

Supporters from across the North East are encouraged to get involved with Hospice Care Week, using #HeartMyHospice to share their experiences of the care and support them and their family and friends have received from St Oswald’s. You can tag St Oswald’s in your experiences on Facebook /stoswaldshospice and Twitter @stoswaldsuk, or pop in to your local St Oswald’s Hospice shop to get involved with their Hospice Care Week activities.