Naomi House & Jacksplace hospices provide expert hospice care to children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses across central southern England.
In 2016 we purchased a new fully accessible minibus for Naomi House to benefit young people with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses. The minibus allows young people to take part in day trips and activities during respite stays.
Ben from Alton, Hampshire lives with his parents, younger brother and pet dog. He has multiple physical disabilities, autism and is a wheelchair user. He started to lose his sight at the age of 12 and by the time he was 16 he was blind. Because of his medical condition his immune system is very depressed, which makes him very susceptible to infections and something as simple as a common cold is life-threatening.
Ben is a regular visitor to Jacksplace and took a few moments to tell us how the hospice has made a difference to him.
“I had heard about Jacksplace for many years because a lot of my friends from school attended and said what a wonderful place it was. They told me about the wonderful team and that you are absolutely spoilt rotten there.
“Last July, I was admitted to hospital with sepsis due to a really severe kidney infection. For the first ten days I was in a life-threatening condition and it very nearly killed me. Before I left to go home I had a conversation with the doctor that will stay with me forever. He said they were running out of treatment options and the best thing I could do was find somewhere to support me, such as a hospice.
“For the first few weeks after being discharged from hospital I wouldn’t talk to anyone. I was very withdrawn and very frightened. I was upset and depressed and you couldn’t hold a conversation with me. It was then that we gave Carol, head of Jacksplace, a call and I came for my first visit to Jacksplace in October last year. It’s been life changing.
“When I left Treloar’s School at the age of 20 there was no support. The only option I had was to visit a day centre for older people, which was very demoralising. I had very little self-esteem and had no contact with people of a similar age and interests, and life was not good.
“Coming to Jacksplace has taught me that despite all the problems that I have and all my daily struggles with pain, that there is life after school. Since coming to Jacksplace it has just changed me so much as a person. I am a lot more confident and don’t feel frightened about it like I used to.
When I first came I was very scared, but I was told that it was natural and I was constantly reassured by the staff and they really helped me settle down. For someone who never stayed away from home or ever wanted to, other than hospital, it’s amazing. My family are in total shock and disbelief because they had begun to think it would never happen.
“I like karaoke, quizzes, and playing games such as Tension – that is always good fun and I just like having a good laugh. I love coming along to day service just for the chat and being around people of my age. We are all on a level playing field, because we all have severe problems and it’s nice not to feel the odd one out, which I did for many years. I felt the odd one out when I went to the day centre, because I was the youngest there and everybody else was in their seventies and eighties and that is totally inappropriate for a young person. I am much happier in an adolescent environment.
“I will say to anyone who comes to Jacksplace, grab the opportunity with both hands, because it is one of the best experiences you could have. We all have a good laugh and everybody gets on, no one is made to feel left out or different, everyone is treated the same, with dignity and respect and you can’t ask for anything more. I could not be happier.
“I’ve learnt from Jacksplace, that it’s not the end, it’s just the beginning of an adventure and fun, and focusses on what you are ABLE to do and how to make life more comfortable and bearable for you. I am full of admiration for the whole team at Naomi House & Jacksplace and how they look after people. I am just amazed by how much I have come on and so are many other people and I fully put that down to Jacksplace.”