The sound of a child’s laughter always brings smiles to the faces of their parents.
And for Tommy and Michelle, listening to their son Christopher laughing in the shower was a sound they treasured.
Christopher was born in 2005 suffering with a variety of conditions that left him unable to walk, talk or feed himself – but he had no problems making everyone aware when he was happy, sad or angry.
And he was happy when he was with any one of his team of nurses – the CLCA nurses who were there to care for him every day, the team of nurses that allowed his parents to keep him at home with them and still be able to do the daily tasks they needed to – like the weekly shop, or essential jobs on the dairy farm in Mid Wales where they live.
But when Christopher first came home from hospital the family struggled to get the care they needed to support a child with complex care needs.
“I wanted help at home and there was no team out there – the agency we had to use was in Bristol, miles away from the farm here in Welshpool, and it took them hours to get here,” said Michelle.
“When they did the farm was difficult to find and we had to guide them to the door by phone. We needed two nurses a day and we never saw the same one.
“Each time a new nurse was sent they could never find us, then when they arrived they had to read the care plan to familiarise themselves with Christopher’s case – the file was large and this could take over an hour.”
Michelle said it was a very traumatic time for the family and as carers for an ill child they needed support and help, not more problems.
And then they met Cherry Adams, a nurse sent out to them who understood the situation the family was in – and wanted to help.
“She realised that we needed a local agency, that could send the same nurses each time, that could get to know Christopher and us as a family,” adds Michelle.
“She wasn’t just a nurse, she was one of the family. I had a lot of nurses that would start packing up at 3.45pm for their shift ending at 4pm. Cherry would always be here until 4.30pm.
“When she set up CLCA as an agency to provide nurses we knew we wanted them to care for Christopher and it was the right decision.”
At the age of 11, in June 2016, Christopher passed away. His CLCA nursing team – three regular nurses and a relief nurse, remained with the family throughout his life, and were there to support them through their most difficult times.
Tommy said one of the most important things about Cherry and her team was their reliability.
“They never once let us down, if one of the team were ill one of the others would come. That was a big thing for us, they were just so reliable and personal.
“We hoisted equipment everywhere, he had an adapted bed, seat, playchair. The nurses were all trained up for us as a family and did a lot of control for everything – invaluable help.
“They were very caring and they didn’t take over, they became part of the family, one of us, so reliable and so cheerful.
“If I ever need care myself I know exactly who to ring.”
The family are extremely grateful to CLCA for all of the time spent with them, and have many fond memories.
“They have a whole different work ethic – the care for the child came first and everything else was second,” adds Michelle. “Even showering was fun, we used to hear him shouting and laughing and he loved it.
“Cherry would take Christopher out onto the farm and sit with him under a large tree in the cow field, that is how I remember Cherry and Christopher. “Together and happy.”
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