As coronavirus swept through the country, Karen’s family, like many families supported by Noah’s Ark, were shielding and isolating. A common cold can be destructive for Noah’s Ark children, let alone Covid-19. But when Karen developed a serious leg infection meaning that she could barely walk, there was no way that she could look after her two girls alone, particularly with the family’s care package decimated by the virus. That’s when Noah’s Ark stepped in.
Nix (above, at The Ark) and Addy both have cerebral palsy and the family has been supported by Noah’s Ark for around 10 years. They’ve been to family events, had specialist carers in the home and drama therapy, but they spent years waiting for the completion of The Ark to have a local hospice building to go to… little did they know they’d do so in such dramatic circumstances!
As Karen says: “I was completely incapacitated. Noah’s Ark literally took over, morning to night. They arranged transport for me to and from hospital, brought me everything I needed at The Ark – and, most importantly, looked after the girls when it would have been so hard for me to do so. That relationship of trust, developed over so many years, really came into its own”.
Karen felt that the support given to the whole family at The Ark was second-to-none: “It was horribly painful and slow for me to even get up off a chair, so getting out of bed in in a hurry in the middle of the night to give Nix her meds or switch on her oxygen was nigh on impossible and would end up with me in tears. That's why coming to The Ark was such a huge relief. It meant that I could spend some time properly recovering and for the girls it was like a holiday! They got to play in the sensory room, spend time with Vikki [Noah’s Ark’s Play Specialist] and even enjoy the outdoors. It made a scary and difficult time as normal as it could possibly be”. Having the time at The Ark also meant that Karen could spend a few days reassuring the girls about the new carers who would be coming into their home afterwards, instead of them just turning up one day.
The family has now stayed at The Ark three times, for three different reasons. The first was just after Nix had come home from an extended hospital stay. With Noah's Ark staff looking after Nix, it meant that Karen could give Addy some extra attention and the whole family could recover together from what had been a traumatic time. The second was for symptom control (to get Nix’s oxygen levels right) and the third was the aforementioned crisis management stay.
It’s the diversity of support that Karen cites as so important for her family: “Our family situation means that we rely on a steady care package which has understandably been up and down this year.
The Ark is a brilliant place for us to be able to stay - it's like having a home from home where we know almost everyone and where the girls love to be, but it also feels like a bit of a luxury hotel too! When we really needed it, The Ark was there for us and really helped us through some tough times. We love it."