Massimo Luca is described by his adoring mum, Sheema, as a “bright, good natured, happy little boy, with the face of an angel”. He is very sociable, enjoys bouncy castles, fairground rides and loves coming to Haven House.

Massimo, 8, has Cerebral Palsy caused by a lack of oxygen during a long and difficult birth. He is unable to walk or talk, has trouble feeding and requires round-the-clock care. His dad, Alfred, gave up work soon after Massimo was born to look after him full-time.

Sheema says:

When we found out the extent of Massimo’s condition, we were shattered. As new parents you have so many hopes and dreams for your child, but we found ourselves grieving for the child that Massimo would never be.

Sheema and Alfred were initially overwhelmed with the number of appointments, therapies and unpredictability of Massimo’s condition.

She explains:

As time has gone on, it has been difficult, but Massimo is a beautiful child and he’s brought us so much joy. We are driven to provide him with the best care and the best opportunities.

When Massimo was six months old, the couple, who live in Chingford, found out about Haven House from their community nurse in June 2010.

Sheema says:

When I heard the word hospice, my initial thought was of an institution, but Haven House is the complete opposite of that. Massimo is very cognitive, and despite his condition, he still needs good interaction and stimulating activities. Haven House provides that in spades, with the most fantastic one-to-one care.

At Haven House, Massimo gets the chance to do all the things that he loves. He can be adventurous and enjoy exciting activities in our playground or relax watching his favourite shows on CBeebies. Massimo accesses music therapy, physiotherapy and therapeutic yoga which helps maintain his mobility.

His younger brother, Xander, also attend Buddies, Haven House’s sibling support group. Through Buddies, Xander has received art therapy to help him express his feelings.

Sheema says:

The hospice has been a lifeline to us. Both our families live abroad and Haven House is like our extended family, giving us the help and flexibility we need, when we are exhausted or just needing the time and space to catch up with chores.

She concludes:

Through the Haven House coffee mornings, I’ve also met other mums who, like me, know that their child will never kick a ball or reach certain milestones, and that makes things feel far less isolating for us.

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