From Little Acorns Grow Big Ideas

More than 300 families each year will have somewhere to stay close by to their sick child thanks to a new ‘Home from Home’ opened today by The Sick Children’s Trust. at the new Rosie hospital, Cambridge.

The charity launched a £400,000 appeal to build the house in Spring 2011 to accommodate families as part of the Rosie hospital’s three-storey extension. The Rosie’s new unit is equipped to care for the sickest and most vulnerable new born babies from all over the East of England and occasionally beyond and Chestnut House will support the families of these children who would otherwise have nowhere to stay whilst their new baby is being treated.

Alan Booth, House Manager at Chestnut House commented: “Every day families lives are thrown into turmoil. What should be a happy time with the birth of their child suddenly turns into a stressful situation and they find themselves having to travel great distances on a daily basis to be with their sick newborns in intensive care. This can place a huge strain on families, both emotionally and financially at a very difficult time.

“Last year 1,081 babies were admitted to neonatal intensive care and special care at the Rosie, and we expect this to increase when the new unit opens. With this new house we can ensure that families are able to stay close to their newborn baby, so that these poorly babies can get the best possible start with their family on hand to offer love and support. Our ‘Home from Home’ at the Rosie hospital has eight en-suite bedrooms, a communal living area and cooking and laundry facilities which will help to provide a comfortable, calming facility for families.”

Jane Featherstone, Head of Fundraising for The Sick Children’s Trust added: “We are thrilled that we can open this new house and want to thank everyone who helped us in our bid to raise the £400,000 needed to build Chestnut House. As a non-NHS funded operation we relied entirely on our supporters to help us fundraise for this new ‘Home from Home’ and are delighted with the result. However we still face ongoing running costs to keep the house open so urge everyone to continue to support us with this project.”

The charity’s Vice President and Broadcaster, Esther Rantzen was on hand to officially open the new house – Chestnut House – on Wednesday 5 September. She said:

“As an 8-year old child I became gravely ill and had to stay in hospital for three months, and even now I remember how I treasured my parents’ visits, and how precious they were.   Now that I am a parent, I know that is a no more worrying or distressing time than when a child is ill and they are miles away. What families need during these times is support, and that’s why The Sick Children’s Trust has its ‘Homes from Home’, so that parents can be close by their child, holding their hand through their illness.

“I am delighted to be here today to open Chestnut House.  This charity provides a vital service to families and hospitals across the UK and it’s an honour to lend my support to such a great cause.”

The £30 million project has transformed the Rosie hospital into one of the leading facilities in the UK.  The existing hospital has been struggling to cope with the rising number of births and also specialist cases that come from across the region to receive treatment here. Chestnut House will be based on the ground floor of the new centre which includes a purpose-built Rosie Birth Centre, which includes 10 spacious en suite rooms – all with birthing pools and some have access to a private garden. The extension also includes maternal and foetal medicine clinics for the monitoring, treatment and care of women with higher risk pregnancies and a larger neonatal unit including a special care baby unit.

Dr Amanda Ogilvy-Stuart, consultant neonatologist, added: “We are one of the leading tertiary units in the UK, providing specialist medical and surgical care for sick and premature babies from across the East of England. Our 41 neonatal cots are always under intense pressure so there was a need to expand the existing hospital.

“With the future expansion to 58 intensive care, high dependency and special care cots over the next few years, the unit will be the largest in the UK and we will have the capacity to treat those babies that need the specialist care we can provide here. Providing parent and family accommodation on site will help enormously, especially for families who live some way from Cambridge so we are delighted to have the support of The Sick Children’s Trust with this new venture.”

The charity already has a ‘Home from Home’ in Cambridge, Acorn House, which supports families of children being treated at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. 

For more information: Please contact Sarah Wallace on 020 7931 8695 or email sarahsickchildrenstrust.org

About The Sick Children’s Trust

The Sick Children’s Trust is celebrating 30 years of supporting families in need. It was founded in 1982 by two paediatric specialists, Dr Jon Pritchard and Professor James Malpas, who believed that having parents on hand during hospital treatment benefited a child’s recovery.

Today we have seven ‘Homes from Home’ at major hospitals around the country where families can stay free of charge, for as long as they need whilst their child is undergoing treatment. There is a growing demand for our ‘Homes from Home’ as children must increasingly travel long distances to get the specialist treatment they need. In the last 30 years we have supported more than 40,000 families.

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