Prince Harry visits new WellChild Nurse and Helping Hands garden makeover in Leeds

Posted on the 7th July 2017

WellChild’s Royal Patron Prince Harry saw the charity’s work in action in Leeds today when he visited the new WellChild Nurse at Leeds Children’s Hospital and a family who are having a Helping Hands garden project in the city.

Prince Harry’s first visit was to the family home of five-year old Oliver, where WellChild was carrying out one of its Helping Hands garden improvement and suitability projects. Oliver has profound and multiple complex needs and is currently unable to access his garden safely without constant close supervision.

Through its national Helping Hands volunteer programme, WellChild makes it possible for children and young people with exceptional health needs like Oliver to enjoy the quality of life at home that most people take for granted.

This was the charity’s 300th Helping Hands project and saw a group of volunteers transform Oliver’s garden into an outside space that he can finally access safely and enjoy with his siblings. The new garden will allow him to develop his physical skills and encourage independence. Prince Harry visited the two-day project on the second morning as it began to take shape, meeting Oliver and his family and the group of WellChild volunteers from the companies GSK, Hilti and Speedy who gave up their time to make it happen.

 

Watch the moment Oliver and his family explore their new garden for the first time

The second visit of the day was to Leeds Children’s Hospital, where Prince Harry met WellChild Nurse Helen Tooby who was recently appointed to provide families in Leeds and Yorkshire with a new hope in getting their children out of hospital and home to their families quickly and safely. Prince Harry also met a group of the children and families who have been helped by Helen on their journey from hospital to home.

WellChild Nurse Helen has been funded by global healthcare company GSK and will be the main point of contact for all children at the hospital with a tracheostomy. She will be on hand to support families from the point of diagnosis, with training and advice, helping them to learn to care for their child and gain the confidence they need to support them at home.

Helen brings considerable experience to this post having qualified in 2006 and first worked at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital where she looked after a range of children with orthopaedic problems and spinal injuries, including her first tracheostomy patients. In 2009 she moved to the Evelina London Children’s Hospital as a Senior staff nurse where she worked on a High Dependency, medical, and surgical ward and, whilst she spent time in all three areas, her base was High Dependency. She looked after numerous tracheostomy patients there building up her knowledge on tracheostomy and ventilator care and learnt about complex discharges. She was promoted to Deputy Sister and managed staff whilst also working on the ward. In 2014 she became the Clinical educator there and supported staff to learn new skills.

I feel very lucky to be joining the WellChild Nurse Family. This role gives me the opportunity to support children and families, not only in hospital, but also at home. These families are inspiring to work with. They have often been on a very long and emotional journey in hospital and have shown such resilience. My role aims to make a child’s stay in hospital as short as possible. Looking after a child with a tracheostomy can be a very daunting experience for parents and being in a position to be able teach and empower families to look after their child confidently at home is extremely rewarding. It’s a real privilege to be part of their journey and this team.

WellChild Nurse Helen

Across the UK, growing numbers of children and young people are living with serious or exceptional health needs. Many spend months, even years in hospital simply because there is no support enabling them to leave. WellChild Nurses like Helen provide the specialist care and support required to help families get their children home from hospital more quickly, empowering them with the skills and confidence to care for their children safely at home.

Colin Dyer, Chief Executive at WellChild said: “To welcome Prince Harry to our 300th Helping Hands project and the launch of our WellChild Nurse at Leeds Children’s Hospital is a proud moment for the charity. To see both programmes grow into new areas of the UK is testament to the tireless work of everyone at WellChild and the support of some incredibly supportive organisations.

“Sadly, there are many more children, young people and families across the country who do not yet have access to a WellChild Nurse and we have countless applications for home and garden makeovers from families unable to live the life at home that many of us take for granted. So while we celebrate today, tomorrow we will continue our efforts to meet the need of the growing numbers of children and young people living with serious and exceptional health needs.”

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