Every week we receive new referrals for children and families who require support from the only children’s hospice in Sussex. We will accept referrals from nurses, doctors, teachers, social workers, or even the child’s own family.
There are two types of referral; the first is a fast-track service for children who are at the end of their life or have indeed already died. These are reviewed or accepted immediately, so the child may be with us in hours, or we may send a team out straight away. The second type of referral takes a bit longer, as we have to determine whether or not each child meets our criteria to be accepted onto our caseload.
When we receive a referral, we first have to get permission from the child’s parents to get medical information from their doctors. As well as asking doctors for medical updates on that child’s condition, we also have to ask them whether the child is likely to live into adulthood. If the answer is yes then unfortunately we would not be able to accept them.
As a charity, and with limited resources available, we have to do what we say we do; which is to provide care and support for children with life-shortening conditions who are not expected to live into adulthood. What is often sad is that these families feel they have nowhere to go if we cannot help them. Families can be informed of or sign posted to other organisations or respite centres for support via other professionals involved in the child’s care.
You can find out more about the work Chestnut Tree does, and how to access our services, at www.chestnut-tree-house.org.uk