I have been at Haven House as a healthcare support worker for 13 years and I still absolutely love my job. I get to help make life better for children and young people with life-limiting conditions and their families which is a wonderful thing to do. Every child and young person who uses Haven House is different and no two days are the same.

As a children’s hospice our care is delivered one to one. When I arrive in the morning, I am allocated a child. I read through their care plan so I know when they need to be fed and are familiar with their likes and dislikes. After I have completed the plan, I can then begin providing care. I might start by helping a child who is staying overnight with their personal care, so they are able to be washed, dressed and fed.

For children who are attending school, the Care team ensure each child is ready to board the school bus when it arrives at the hospice. For children who are not attending school, they are able to take part in our structured programme of day activities.

During the morning we tend to focus on practical play in our arts and crafts room. I work closely with our brilliant play co-ordinators who do an excellent job of making sure activities incorporate the seasons. During the summer months I might help a child make an ice cream using tissue and coloured paper or create pumpkin-themed decorations in the autumn. For parents, it’s really nice to see all the amazing things their child has done during their stay at Haven House, and it also provides wonderful memories for the children and young people we support.

We like to take the children out in the grounds as much as possible throughout the year. Haven House is set within 18 acres of protected woodland with wheelchair accessible pathways making it perfect for outdoor activities. Our playground, situated on the main lawn, has a wheelchair accessible pirate ship, a wheelchair swing, a sunken trampoline and a basket swing. In the afternoon we might do some more craft activities, enjoy a group music or yoga session with our fantastic therapists or watch a film in our cinema room.

Lunch takes place in our conservatory which looks out on to our sensory gardens and enormous oak tree. Mealtimes are protected times for our children which means all activities stop to ensure there are no interruptions. Many of our children are unable to eat, drink and swallow whole food and are fed via a gastrostomy or nasogastric tube.

Over the years the level of care we are providing has steadily become more complex and technology dependent. Today we regularly see children with complex ventilation which wouldn’t have been the case when I first started at Haven House. On a night shift we have to observe children and young people very closely as their conditions can fluctuate rapidly. Some of our children and young people require oxygen at night and others might not sleep at all due to the nature of their condition.   

It means being a healthcare support worker is challenging as it requires a high level of skill, but it’s also rewarding when you see the difference you make to children and their families every single day.

Join our Care team and help make a difference to our families.

Stacey Bishop is a Healthcare Support Worker at Haven House whose role is generously funded by BBC Children in Need.