As summer approaches, many families are preparing to pack their cases in readiness for a longed-for summer holiday, but when Bridget James and her two daughters pack theirs, it’s in readiness for a short break stay at Tŷ Hafan - the only holiday that they can spend together.
Bridget and her children Elain, 8 and Martha, 4, are supported by Tŷ Hafan, where specialist staff offer comfort, care and support for children with life limiting conditions and their families.
Elain was born with multiple, complicated heart conditions and a rare genetic disorder. Although her condition is currently stable, it could only be a matter of time before it deteriorates.
“We have been going on holiday to Tŷ Hafan and using their fantastic services since Elain was one”, said Bridget, from Aberystwyth.
“And like most families, the excitement of going on holiday for me and the girls starts when we are packing. It’s so ironic really that we live in a seaside town, yet it’s Tŷ Hafan that is our family holiday”.
“I don’t relax at all at home, so for me, the stay at Tŷ Hafan is my only break for what feels like such a long time. When we stay, there are no day-to-day pressures, Martha can just play and enjoy herself and I can feel myself starting to unwind as the days go on. Sometimes I am so run down by the time I get to Tŷ Hafan because I find the real world so difficult”.
In this year’s Summer appeal, Tŷ Hafan is asking for donations to allow the charity to continue to offer care and comfort to life limited children whilst providing them with some extra special treats to make their holiday with Tŷ Hafan truly magical.
Beth Morgan, Tŷ Hafan’s Head of Hospice Services, explained that caring for a life limited child turns parents into full-time carers and the previous life they once had is no longer recognisable.
“Some of our families spend every day living in fear for their child. Parents can become exhausted and emotionally drained from sleepless nights, constant worry and guilt towards not spending as much time with their other children, as well as enduring financial stresses and practical difficulties of caring for their child on a daily basis”, she said.
Beth continued: “That’s why our short break care service is crucial. We help to temporarily alleviate the stresses by giving the whole family a much needed holiday. They enjoy sessions together in the hydrotherapy pool, day trips to the beach and a good night’s sleep – things that sound so simple to us but for them are impossible in their day to day lives. By the end of their stay, parents are physically and emotionally in a much better place”.
And Bridget added: “Just like any holiday, when the week is over it’s back to reality, but at least I have found some more strength, ready to go again. For my family and the many others that Tŷ Hafan supports, a Tŷ Hafan holiday means making memories and special moments that matter, and having time to properly switch off. It’s just the perfect family holiday”.