Annual archive

Hospice visit to Orkney brings much-needed respite to family after lockdown

Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) and regional airline Loganair have teamed up to give a family in Orkney a special visit after an isolating year of shielding during lockdown.

The Jackson family from Orkney, who previously relied on visits to Rachel House in Kinross – a home for families operated by CHAS – several times a year, have not been able to access the services amid the pandemic.

Now, daughter Abbie, who was diagnosed with Rett syndrome at just 18-months, has turned 21 and is no longer of age to access CHAS which offers full family support for babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions. Rett syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects brain development, meaning that Abbie is non-verbal and lives with severe mental and physical disabilities.

During visits to CHAS, Abbie is cared for by the team who take her on adventures and special days out, while parents Karen and Dave are able to get some respite to unwind and recuperate.

Naturally, throughout the duration of the pandemic, the family have not been able to travel for a visit and have been accessing CHAS services virtually through CHAS at Home.

The CHAS team felt that it was incredibly important for Abbie and her family to have one last visit before she transitions into adult care and reached out to Loganair for support.

Senior nursing support worker Mairi Stirling and staff nurse Amanda Riddoch flew to Kirkwall Airport from Inverness and spent a weekend going out on drives, visiting local sites and taking part in music therapy sessions – things that Abbie loves to do most. The visit meant that parents Karen and Dave were able to get some respite for the weekend and relax knowing their daughter was in safe hands.

Karen Jackson, Abbie’s mum, said: “It has been incredibly special to have CHAS visit us at our home in Orkney to say goodbye to a service which has been a lifeline to us since Abbie’s diagnosis. CHAS has become a home away from home for us – it is a place where we can feel completely comfortable. The care is like no other and the team have given us special weekends where we can get some respite knowing that Abbie is well-looked after and is having fun.

“We are so grateful that we were able to enjoy this weekend having some down time together. Abbie had a great time, and we will cherish these memories forever.”

Mairi, senior nursing support worker at Children’s Hospices Across Scotland, said: “We were acutely aware that Karen and Dave hadn’t had any respite over the last year and we have been working towards a visit for some time, so to finally be able to make it to Orkney has been really important.

“To be able to visit the family at home and give them a special goodbye from CHAS has been fantastic and we are thankful to Loganair for their support.”

Kay Ryan, Loganair’s commercial director, said: “We are honoured to be working with CHAS in support of the incredible work that they do.

“We are committed to keeping people connected and after more than a year of restrictions, to be able to help families like the Jacksons benefit from travel once again is fantastic.”