Stoke & Staffordshire

Stoke's Donna Louise Hospice a 'lifeline for families'

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Media captionBBC presenter Joanne Malin finds out how Children in Need money is being spent at the Donna Louise Children's Hospice Trust's Treetops centre

To Georgia Cotton it represents a "lifeline", providing services that, literally, help her get through the night.

And it is thanks in part to funding from the BBC's Children in Need (CiN) appeal that enables Donna Louise Children's Hospice Trust's (DLCHT) Treetops centre in Stoke-on-Trent, to continue work for patients like 12-year-old Georgia.

Her mother Tracey says she does not know what they would do without the services offered at the purpose-built building in Trentham.

Georgia, who suffers from a form of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, is a regular visitor to Treetops to allow her family, says Ms Cotton, to "recharge our batteries".

"Georgia's on mass ventilation overnight because she stops breathing every so many minutes so we get a lot of sleepless nights," she said.

"It's also good for Georgia because it's like a social thing. She has lots of stimulation when she comes and she's just coming on leaps and bounds with how she responds to all the play that Carly does.

Image caption Georgia initially had a form of epilepsy called West Syndrome

"If you sing, Georgia sings back in her own way and her eyes like up.

"I always get emotional even though I see Georgia responding every day to different things. It's still a massive achievement that we thought she'd never do."

"At the beginning you're told all these things by the doctors that your child won't do certain things but Georgia's proved them all wrong and a lot of it is to do with the stimulation and the input that the play specialists do with Georgia at Treetops."

DLCHT provides specialist care for children up to the age of 19, extending its support to friends and families as well, and last year received a £77,045 CiN grant to use over a three-year period.

Therapist Carly Leigh use play to engage with children who are bereaved or who are receiving end-of-life care to talk about "funeral arrangements or their favourite things to distract them when they're in pain".

"It can be difficult because some of the children you've known for quite a long time," she said.

DLCHT also offer services at the home of patients.

'Expensive services'

Melanie Mills, of DLCHT, says she would like to be able to offer support around the clock adding that while services offered by the hospice trust have "increased year on year", fundraising "doesn't always keep up with that".

"We've had to find new ways of being able to deliver that service to the children and families that need it the most and we've expanded our community team in particular so that we can deliver the care that the children and families need, where they need it and when they need it," she said.

"We're able to offer the care and support to children and families six days a week.

"It costs us just over £2.2m a year to run these services. Children's hospices are very expensive services to run but they are vital as well."

DLCHT has received other CiN grants prior to the latest one awarded in 2010.

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