I was going in to be part of a “play date” day. Working with the outreach play team, I was quickly given a couple of soft toys to wrap up for a pass the parcel game. I could hardly believe my luck, less than an hour in and I’d been give sellotape! I was introduced to a couple of volunteers who were there, so we went off to the toy library to pick out some toys for the play date then to the activity room to set up.
Once the kids had been received in, they were off! The day I was in, they were pre-school age and as mobile as any kids are. Playing just the same games as my two boys had, lining up the cars and zooming them across the floor, playing in the house and dressing up. Sometimes with a play worker with them guiding them, or with one of their parents or a volunteer. As they were playing I was helping to make up decorations for the parties at the end of the week, Superheroes and an Alice in Wonderland tea party.
Quickly advancing from sellotape to glue, scissors and crepe paper! With the added joys of nudging the odd car back when it disappeared or redirecting a rogue football from time to time. As the play activity ended, people headed towards the main room for lunch. I found myself talking to the Hulk, doing hulk type roars, and looking for any green hulk handprints on the walls.
Lunch was an informal affair, sitting round the tables and chatting with staff and families. In the afternoon there was a visiting music group who led us in singing songs from Disney shows, whilst we carried on with preparations for the superhero week activities. And, yes, I did hum along to stuff from ‘Frozen’. The Hulk got me helping him with stickers & we discussed the merits of either Hulk (ROAR) or Thor (Hammer) and concluded that they were both the best!
Once people started to leave, the activity stuff was cleared away and staff and visitors went their separate ways. Throughout the course of the afternoon there were things to be jobbing along with, photos from a hydrotherapy session to be printed, families to visit, party activities to arrange, playgrounds to check, toys to change batteries in and doubtless loads more to do that I didn’t even notice.
There were chances during the day to chat to the staff I was with, about what they did and how much there was to do. I was constantly impressed at how subtly everything was handled. I was expecting things to be more ‘medical’ but no, any medication was just dealt with quickly as part of what else was happening at the time.
I really enjoyed my day, it was great to see where our hard won takings go. Whilst we’re hard at work at one ‘sharp’ end, all hospice staff are very much involved in the other ‘sharp’ end. All my preconceptions were shattered. The kids do what all kids their age do, enjoying playing and joining in with the activities as much as they are able to. Families are supported too, again, not in a ‘sit down and have a meeting way’ but in a ‘have a cuppa and a chat way’ which again is just what we do in our house.
I’d strongly encourage anyone to see what goes on at Tŷ Hafan. Yes, the baths are bigger, yes there’s lift assisting equipment, but there are sofas, toys, tables and chairs and cups of tea too. It all means that we can do exactly what it says on the tin: