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Pioneering service offers vital support to families during pandemic

by Monika Gaubyte | Mar 31, 2021

A new, collaborative, overnight respite care service for children with very complex healthcare needs, launched to provide extra support for children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic, is set to continue for an additional seven months.

Overnight respite care service

Milton Hub began back in November to support families in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough experiencing incredibly tough circumstances as a result of some care and routines being affected by the impact of COVID-19. Many parents and guardians shielding their clinically vulnerable children over the last year have been providing care full-time, but those who have accessed this new service say it has “come to my rescue” and “really did save the day”.

A collaboration between East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), Cambridgeshire  Community Services (CCS) NHS Trust and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Milton Hub offers a four- or three-night stay at EACH’s centre in Milton for children with very complex medical needs, thereby giving some much-needed respite to both parents, guardians and children. 

Children who stay at the Hub get to take part in fun and nurturing activities whilst being cared for by nurses and healthcare workers from within the local children’s care system. The environment is fully COVID-secure, with complete PPE for staff and testing carried out for all, including children. By the end of February 109 overnight stays had taken place.

Carol Anderson, Chief Nurse at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG, said:

“We’re so pleased to work together with our brilliant colleagues at EACH and at the Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust to support parents, carers and children with very complex healthcare needs whose care has been affected significantly by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know this has been an incredibly tough year for parents and children. We feel privileged to be able to offer this respite service to give children an enjoyable break away from their day-to-day routine, and to offer parents and carers the chance to catch their breath and recharge, knowing their children are safely being cared for by a wonderful team of trained professionals.”

Jenna Ridout, EACH Clinical Nurse Specialistwho specialises in long-term ventilation and respiratory care, has been leading the Hub. She said: 

“Families who have accessed the Hub have generally expressed relief that their child can be cared for somewhere safe, with specialist nursing support, whilst they take a moment to rest or spend time with other family members. This more obvious outcome of respite for parents and carers who are exhausted, however, has gone hand in hand with their excitement and anticipation of positive experiences for their child to access via Milton Hub. We’ve been inviting children and young people to contribute to a large piece of group artwork, entitled Creative Connections, which is exciting to see grow with each Hub stay.”

Kirstie Lynn, Service Manager, Children’s Specialist Community Nursing Services in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said:

“We’re delighted to be working with our colleagues across the county to provide some much-needed respite for children and young people. It has been a real opportunity for our teams to learn from each other and really highlights positive outcomes we can achieve when we work together to support families.”

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