On 27th February 2017, Laura and I were invited to a Visitor’s Day at Chestnut Tree House for a cheque presentation and a tour of the facilities.
We met with Vicky, a corporate fundraiser at Chestnut Tree House, who very kindly showed us around the hospice and gave us an insight in to all the activities that are provided for the children. Chestnut Tree House operates throughout East and West Sussex to provide children who have life-shortening illnesses with care, support, quality time and above all, fun. Their aim is to make every day count - the good days, the bad days and the last days.
There are a range of services available at the hospice. Whilst we were there, we saw several children making use of the wet play areas – where mess is very much encouraged! The Magic Carpet room was definitely a highlight too; the Magic Carpet projects interactive apps that the children can engage with by simply moving on or over the projected image. This encourages the children to engage in a stimulated environment, as well as promoting focus learning and exploration.
Caring for a sick child can by emotionally and physically demanding for the whole family, and Chestnut Tree House also offer support for parents, siblings and grandparents. This can be anything from something as simple as a conversation with the Therapy team to family use of one of the eight bedrooms to enable parents to stay close to their children.
Whilst there are many things that stand out about Chestnut Tree House, what struck a chord with Laura and I was how far the hospice goes to move away from a clinical-feeling environment. Every little detail is thought about – the lovely half-moon shaped windows to murals on the ceiling. Every child who spends time at the hospice will have spent more than their fair share in hospitals, and it is important to Chestnut Tree House that even though these children need care and support, sometimes what they need more is to just be a child.
We marked the end of our visit with the presentation of a cheque for the funds Dawson Hart raised throughout 2016. It was a fantastic setting to hand over the results of our hard work, made even more worthwhile by being able to see exactly where the money was being used and the children it will help in the future.