A Sensory Room for Edie

Little Edie Hughes was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy when she was only five days old. Doctors were pessimistic, but two years later she is bright as a button thanks to a Children’s Integrated Therapy Team and their sensory room funded by her NHS charity.

Sensory rooms can have a tremendous impact on the development of children. They have been shown to be calming, and to help them interact with other people and the world around them. It's a great way to develop their mental and physical capacity and Edit's mother is under no doubt about how important it has been.

“It’s a wonderful space and you can really tell that Edie benefits from it as it’s such a calming, immersive environment,” she explains. “If we didn’t use it I know that Edie wouldn’t be doing so well or be at the stage she is now."

However, it's not only Edie who benefits. This is a great place for their parents who have a comfortable and relaxing place to play and spend quality time with their children. For Edie, his mother Marianne and many other children, sensory rooms such as this are opening up a world of new horizons.

Special School mini makeover

Delighted pupils and nurses at a Special School have an NHS charity to thank for the new décor and furniture in their doctor’s consultation room. Fresh paint, new furniture and bedding and an eye-catching ‘fantasy land’ mural spanning an entire wall have transformed the room to create a bright, comforting space for pupils and their families.

Andrea who leads a team of 13 nurses said: “Working closely with our teaching colleagues, we provide specialist care for children and young people with multiple complex health needs.

“Around 13 of the current pupils have ‘advanced care plans’, which identify the wishes of parents, carers and the pupils themselves as to the course of action they would like to take at the end-stages of their life.

“Many of the care plans are discussed in school with nurses and consultants at what is a very difficult time for families and we have been very aware that the doctor’s clinic room was in need of some ‘TLC’ for sensitive conversations of this kind.

“We now have a beautiful, vibrant room which is inviting for pupils and their families which means that, whether families are receiving good or difficult news, it will be delivered in a more positive environment.”

Art Therapy for Suzanne

When Suzanne was diagnosed with cancer, her life changed completely. She had always been a keen artist, but cancer made it difficult to attend classes. Everything changed thanks to monthly art workshops run by an NHS charity which helped her rediscover her creative flair. 

Many people living with serious conditions such as cancer face a host of different emotions such as fear, anxiety and a loss of confidence. The chance to explore new experiences, express their creativity and make new friends can improve their wellbeing and their recoveries. That's what these art classes achieve.

Every month the charity organises art workshops designed to help patients explore the world of art, develop their own skills and get to know one another. The courses are a great way to improve their wellbeing, help them feel more comfortable around one another and deal with their conditions.

They made a huge difference for Suzanne.

“The course really helps and I find art therapeutic,” she explains. “It’s now become a social thing as well. We’re able to relate to one another. You don’t need to talk about it here, but you understand that everybody is in a similar situation.”

Memories for Olive

850,000 people in the UK have dementia. For patients with dementia a stay in hospital can be upsetting for them and their families, but thanks to a memory box scheme funded by an NHS charity, patients like Olive find comfort and familiarity.

Anna O’Neill, Olive’s nurse says ‘The boxes hold special items such as photos, books and trinkets that help reduce patients anxiety. We encourage patients to look at the items when we can see they are becoming distressed’.  

Memory Boxes help patients to recall memories and open up conversation between them and their carers, which is shown to increase the speed of their recovery and reduce their stay in hospital.

Jack’s struggles

Expecting a baby is the most exciting moment in any parent’s life, but imagine the terrible feeling if you hear that your precious gift may not survive. That’s the nightmare that many parents experience, but what often gets forgotten is the financial pressures of coping with a sick family member. One charity is now raising funds to help support parents through this difficult time.

One of those families was the Garlick family. Their son Jack was born with congenital CMV and developed a potentially fatal chest infection only a week after his parents brought him home for the first time.

He deteriorated quickly and was only saved thanks to pioneering treatment.

His mother Emma said: “You can never describe to someone how that feels, watching your baby fight for his life. You can’t do anything for them. All you want to do is look after them, but you can’t. You are helpless.”

He spent five days in intensive care before being moved to a ward. In all he was away from home for two weeks. But while the stress of watching their son fight for life was bad enough the family soon began to struggle with the spiralling costs of staying with their son.

They were saved by their NHS charity’s hardship fund which provides financial support for parents whose loved ones are critically ill. It allows families to stay together and means they don’t have to worry about money during the most difficult of times.

Jada's room

Everyday 17 babies are stillborn. When Lauren Petrie’s child Jada became one of those 17 she was determined to do everything she could to help others through the same experience. With the help of a kind and generous donation she created Jada’s Room – a place where parents of stillborns could recover.

"When I got to the hospital, three hours before my scheduled appointment, I was not prepared to hear that they couldn't find a heartbeat,” she explains “even after one midwife, two doctors and a senior sonographer checking me I still didn't believe it, it felt like I was in a nightmare, everything went into slow motion'.

At 3.30 that morning she gave birth to Jada. The moment she set eyes on her, she knew she couldn’t let her death be in vain. While she couldn’t stop other parents suffering the same heartache, she could do something to help them.

Together with her bereavement midwife, Jane Scott, she set up Jada’s Room. The room is exclusively for stillbirths and miscarriages and has a double bed where parents can lie down with their baby.

It even has its own kitchen area where people can have tea and coffee in private rather than having to walk down the corridor bumping into proud parents with their new babies.

The psychological impact of losing a baby can be devastating it. Although hospitals can’t stop it altogether, with the help of NHS charities they can create a restful environment for parents at the worst possible time.

Sandra steps in

Ruth was diagnosed with a shocking heart condition which prompted the emergency delivery of her baby at 33 weeks and them being separated at birth at two different hospitals. But thanks to the help of NHS charity funded Family Support Nurse Sandra Brown, Ruth and her family found a way to cope with their traumatic ordeal.

Mums like this who find themselves separated from their babies at birth often worry about not bonding. Not only do they need to cope with their own situation, but they are also worried for their baby and how they will be affected.

‘I had to have a general anesthetic during the delivery, but Sandra was there and she took photos for us. After I was woken Sandra bought William to see me everyday by ambulance, and when he was well enough she went above and beyond and personally bought him over in a car seat.

‘Without Sandra’s help, I would not have seen William and would have missed out on his early development. Being separated from a new born baby is incredibly difficult, but all the support Sandra gave was so beneficial. She knew just how important it was that I saw William regularly.'

Anupurba's rehab

Thanks to an NHS charity, young children like Anupurba who wear prosthesis can benefit from a specially designed therapeutic playground to help their rehabilitation through play.

The charity has already provided funding for a multi-level walkway and running track to help people who use prosthetic limbs or wheelchairs improve confidence and mobility on a range of surfaces. 

Now, the team wants to go several steps further by raising enough money to include a specially designed playground to aid the rehabilitation of their younger patients through play and physical activity.

NHS Charity Manager Sarah said “Play is such a key part of childhood and development and we want the children who access the rehab services to experience this too.

Dad Anirban Saha said: “Anu has attended for several years for assessment, treatment and support with her prosthetics and I can honestly say the welcome is so warm and the team so caring that it almost feels like one big family.

“This project to create an outdoor therapy area is another example of that commitment to maximising people’s rehabilitation potential.”

Bingo!

Patients and staff at an intermediate care centre have been enjoying new interactive garden games and activities funded by an NHS charity.

The unit aims to support people when they come out of hospital and require additional support and therapy before they return home. In addition to the care and treatment already offered, the staff purchased garden games such as a giant 'four in a row', skittles and quoits as well as activities like painting equipment and a bingo set. 

Therapy Assistant Craig said: "We are delighted with the range of games and activities we've been able to buy thanks to charity funds. These will help to boost social interaction and the morale of our patients. 

"Myself, Wendy and the rest of the therapy team are developing group activities to help stimulate patients both physically and mentally. As well as having fun these activities have a real therapeutic value."

Dinesh’s helping hand

Dinesh Kotecha has been living with a severe tremor for several years. As the condition worsened it became increasingly difficult for him to complete simple everyday tasks – using a mobile phone, making a cup of tea or eating with a knife and fork. However, a revolutionary new treatment paid for by an NHS charity has given him his life back.

There are one million people living with essential tremor in the UK, and 250,000 experience severe symptoms. Traditional treatments are often ineffective and surgery is expensive and risky. But the new focused ultrasound treatment means specialists do not need to cut into the skull, instead using pioneering brain scanning equipment to fire high intensity ultrasound waves at specific parts of the brain.

So far, the results have been astonishing: all patients who have been treated have experienced a massive reduction in the severity of the tremor. For Dinesh it has been life changing. “After the treatment I can now hold my hand still, I can do anything. It has improved my quality of life. It has been an instant recovery and completely painless.”

Stem cells for sight

As we age our sight starts to deteriorate. It’s the kind of thing we’ve all come to accept, but a revolutionary form of stem cell therapy supported by an NHS charity means this will not necessarily be the case in the future.

Age related macular degeneration is the most common causes of sight loss in the world. AMD can lead to rapid loss of reading vision. Until now it had been thought to be irreversible, but the first patients to use a brand new treatment derived from stem cells are getting it back.

The ophthalmic surgeon involved in the project says: “The fact is, once the nerves in the retina start to be damaged through disease, they don’t regrow. So, people lose their central and high-quality vision. It would be powerful if we could put back what’s missing.”

Research into stem cell therapy is crucial in reversing many severe retinal diseases, especially AMD as quickly as possible. However, this research is expensive and breakthroughs like this are only possible thanks to the role of philanthropy and amazing NHS charities.

Gardening for PTSD

Every year thousands of people arrive in the UK from some of the most dangerous warzones in the world. Many of them are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but one charity has hit upon an innovative solution: gardening.

Gardening has really been shown to help people with PTSD. For Bekele, a 40-year-old man from Ethiopia, the project was a real lifesaver. “If I am not coming here I wouldn’t be alive,” he says. “At home it’s just watching TV or thinking. It’s like a different world when I joined this group.”

The charity supports a weekly gardening and community group as well as a 12-week classroom-based course, which run through the skills and tips for coping with PTSD.

Thanks to a donation of £50,000, the team has now moved to new premises where they offer a safe space for people to access information and support during their recovery. It has enabled them to do much more to help people at a highly vulnerable point in their lives.

Tackling mental health head on

The moment at which people make the transition from a secure mental hospital back into society is one of the most important, but difficult, parts of the recovery process. That’s why it’s helpful to have support from people who have travelled the same path before.

That’s the idea behind an innovative peer support group which helps people interact with former patients as they make their way back into the community. One NHS charity supports three secure mental health hospitals which provide accommodation, treatment and support for people with severe mental health problems who have been imprisoned or admitted to hospital.

The peer suppor group offers friendly support from people who know what they are going through and gives them a vital network to fall back on. It’s a great way to meet new people and ensure they have the support they need when they are at their most vulnerable as one user explains.

“I found the wealth of experience that the other members of the group bring very helpful and drives me to thinking maybe I can succeed and get to the point they are at.”

The key to this group’s success is the fact that it is peer led and helps people to socialise. It enables them to become active members of the community, reduces their risk of reoffending and helps them to rebuild their lives.

Stine’s story

In 2006, spinner Ashley Giles was in Australia with England attempting to retain the Ashes when he received the news every husband dreads: his wife Stine had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Her life was saved thanks to a ground-breaking machine which had been bought with the help of an NHS charity only a few weeks before.

Stine was one of the first people to be treated with a revolutionary new form of treatment called tomotherapy. This is an advanced form of radiation therapy in which the radiation is delivered slice by slice. It combines image scanning and treatment to more precisely target tumours.

Without the machine it there would have been few options for treatment – with it the tumour was successfully removed.

Having had her life saved by cutting-edge research and development Stine was determined to raise funds to help further brain tumour research in the future. To date she and Ashley have raised an incredible £120,000.

In 2012, the couple received news that two more tumours had been discovered. However, thanks to the pioneering treatment, she has again responded well. Although she continues to have regular checks and scans she is back enjoying life with her family.

Our Charities