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Isabella’s story: “We’ve always thought of Little Havens as our safe place.”

“We’ve always thought of Little Havens as our safe place. A shoulder to cry on and someone who understood.”

Children’s hospices provide vital support for children and young people with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition. Everything they do is #ForTheChildren –helping families make the most of their lives together, no matter how short.

This Children’s Hospice Week we are showing how important each individual child is to the amazing local hospices who care for them. They provide a lifeline #ForTheChildren like Isabella.

Known to her family as Bella, she was diagnosed with a life-limiting heart condition at three months old. As well as having two holes in her heart, Bella survived meningitis as a baby, and was then diagnosed at two years old with a rare, incurable chromosome disorder that left her unable to walk, eat orally or communicate verbally.

However, her conditions didn’t stop her from enjoying every day. Bella had a smile that lit up the room, a wicked laugh and a very cheeky personality.

“We called Bella our little boomerang, because so many times she would be really ill and then she’d just bounce back and start laughing again.”

Christine, Bella's mum.

When Bella was nine months old, the family were referred to Little Havens children’s hospice who provided them with regular respite care, support and symptom management for 15 years.  Christine, Bella’s mum said the support they received was vital and “kept them sane.”

“They have always been there, putting Bella’s best interests first. Little Havens has been the constant in our lives over the years.”

In August 2021 Bella went into hospital with a urine infection and quickly deteriorated. The family did not want Bella to die in a clinical environment where her friends and family couldn’t say goodbye, so they were moved to Little Havens for end of life care.

“When your child has such complex needs, you don’t realise how much time you spend being a carer rather than her mum. In the final nine days we were at Little Havens I didn’t have to be a carer, all I needed to focus on was spending time with Bella, making memories and being her mum.”

In Bella’s finals days, the hospice helped to manage her symptoms, so she was as pain-free as possible. “Little Havens made sure that every single day counted. Her days consisted of pampering sessions with her sister, evenings in the grounds watching the sunset together and lots of sensory stories and music therapies. In the darkest of days, they made sure we all had support and somehow helped us all smile, laugh and enjoy our final time.”

“It’s so hard to put into words what that week at Little Havens gave us in preparing to say goodbye. I knew the hospice provided end of life care and I knew that it would be really sad when Bella died but I didn’t realise how comforting it would be for it to happen at Little Havens. The hospice is so full of love even during your darkest time, and because of that, her last moments weren’t filled with trauma or pain.”

“When Bella died, they created two canvases for us using her footprints which are now some of our most treasured possessions.”

Children’s hospices like Little Havens provide vital support for children and young people with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition. Show your support #ForTheChildren this #ChildrensHospiceWeek.

Family stories