When children end up in hospital, it's pretty torrid time for the parents. You have the worry about your child's health and if you are there for any number of days, then sleep and a decent meal become rarities. The NHS is brilliant at what it does, and quite rightly the system is built around getting the patient well enough to go home. The system isn't built to look after the parents of the child being treated. Some children's hospitals have dedicated accommodation for parents, or even pull-down beds in some rooms, but if our experience is any indicator of the wider picture, there just isn't the infra-structure in place to look after parents properly, or enough of it.
You could argue that the NHS is there to look after the child, not the parent, but here's the rub .... parents are deeply involved in the decision-making processes for their child; they have the final say on what does and doesn't happen. If you as a parent haven't slept in 3 days, haven't eaten properly and are frightened witless, how do you manage to listen to everything that the specialists and consultants are telling you, understand it along with its implications, and decide what to do? Our daughter had a grade 4 brain stem glioma, a highly aggressive brain tumour, that would ultimately kill her and staying on top of the information on operations, treatment options and the like was a nightmare on top of a nightmare.
We feel that as parents you need to be in the best shape possible so that you can get your head around everything and look after your child. That's why Evie's Gift exists. We saw tired parents sleeping on chairs or in cars for days on end, then turning up at the intensive care unit trying to figure out what was going on. Then figuring out that they couldn't afford to eat because their pay had been stopped. Evie's Gift will pay for a couple of nights in a local hotel so you can sleep, eat a proper meal and shower, and get back to the ward refreshed and ready for whatever decisions need to be taken. It doesn't matter who you are or how much you earn, we will help you to be there for your child, to be in the best place possible to understand what the heck is going on. Sleep and food are the basics that we offer, but we can also help out with money to pay for train travel to and from hospital or even a mobile phone top-up so that you can stay in touch with worried family and friends. The children's hospitals across the UK all cover a wide geographic area, so you could find yourself miles from home. Listening to a friendly voice on the end of the phone, or having granny there beside you to give you a break can make a world of difference.
So that's why we are here. We learnt from personal experience that having your child in hospital with a critical condition is bad enough, but trying to figure everything out when you haven't slept or eaten properly for days makes that whole dreadful situation ten times worse. As we say on our website "Your child is in good hands, so let us look after you".