Lifelites donates new technology to Sussex children’s hospice

Magical technology donated to the children’s hospice for Sussex is allowing the young people it cares for to experience things they and their parents never thought possible.

Children’s charity Lifelites donated a range of new technology to Chestnut Tree House to give children with life-shortening conditions an opportunity to experience a whole new world.

Hannah Fuchs, communications officer for Lifelites, said: “In light of Covid-19, life-limited and disabled children are more isolated and vulnerable than ever before. Lifelites is delighted to have raised enough funds as a small charity to be able to donate assistive technology for the children at the Sussex children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House.”

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The equipment enables the children to play, be creative, control something for themselves and communicate. Lifelites said the specialist technology enabled them to escape the confines of their conditions, connect with loved ones and communicate wishes and fears, which was proving vital during this unsettling time.

The virtual reality set gives children the opportunity to experience things they and their parents never thought possible

The POD, for example, is a mobile, sensory, pop-up tent that enables children with life-shortening conditions to escape into their own world, where they can be surrounded by sea animals that swim around them while they listen to built-in calming music. It has room for any child, regardless of their needs, and comes in a rucksack, so hospice staff can easily take it on Hospice at Home visits.

Simone Enefer-Doy, chief executive, said: “We’re delighted to be able to donate a brand-new package of assistive technology for the children at Chestnut Tree House. The huge range of bespoke equipment that Lifelites has donated is specially adapted so that it can be used by any child, regardless of their ability.

“Every second counts for these children and their families. This magical technology will give them the opportunities to make the most of every minute.

“We couldn’t have provided this package if it wasn’t for the generosity of our supporters, so for this we are incredibly grateful.”

Lifelites technical support worker Bryan Giddings delivers new equipment to Chestnut Tree House children's hospice

The technology will cost around £50,000 over four years, along with training and technical support services, which Lifelites provides for free. Lifelites aims to return to replace the equipment at the end of the four years, providing the latest, up-to-date technology that is bespoke and most suitable for the children at Chestnut Tree House.

As part of the package, Lifelites donated inclusive gaming equipment such as an Xbox with adaptive controller and switches. This gives parents and siblings the opportunity to join in and play as a family.

The virtual reality set gives children the opportunity to do things like walk along a virtual beach or sit around a virtual camp fire.

Cathy Stone, chief executive at Chestnut Tree House, said: “We feel extremely lucky to have had the support of Lifelites for many years now. The entertainment, educational and assistive technology packages that they donate to Chestnut Tree House make such a big difference to children with life-shortening conditions and their families.

Adaptive controllers and switches allow everyone to use the inclusive gaming equipment

“Often, the short-break care that we offer at the house is the only time that parents can be parents, instead of carers. It currently costs over £4.6million each year to provide all the care services offered by Chestnut Tree House. Families are never charged for their care and only a small percentage is funded by the government. So, donations like this make a big difference to hospice care.”

Lifelites has donated equipment to every children’s hospice in the British Isles over the past 20 years and continues to provide new technology and ongoing support to ensure children in hospices have the opportunity to escape the confines of their conditions.

This latest package of technology was donated due to the generosity of supporters including the Provincial Grand Lodge of Sussex Freemasons, Isabel Blackman Foundation, John Coates Charitable Trust, Lawson Trust CIO and the Miss Pannett Charitable Trust.