In 1998 Butterwick House opened its doors, providing care facilities for babies, children and young adults. Nicola, from the fundraising team showed me around the facilities at the Stockton site. I was struck by how homely Butterwick House feels, every room is filled with light and the walls are decorated in warm colours and murals.
The main dayroom is a hive of activity, with areas for the children to watch TV, eat and play together. Butterwick House has been designed to meet the needs of the children with discreet hoists, specialist chairs, and sensory play.
Every detail is carefully considered to maximise the quality of life for each child.
The children have a computer which can detect eye movement, allowing a child who can’t use their arms to draw a picture for the first time. Nicola explained that for some parents this may be the first drawing their son or daughter has ever made.
Butterwick House is not just a place of care, it provides families with the opportunity to make memories that will last a lifetime.
The sensory room is a small space with soft carpets and low-level platforms. The children explore and play through light, sound and touch. It also doubles as a cinema room for families to watch films together.
In here you will find the sensory story books. Each story has an accompanying sensory board, so the children can feel, hear or smell what is being described.
Storytelling is an important part of Butterwick House, the walls are decorated with quotes from Dr Seuss “A person’s a person, no matter how small”. Dr Seuss is a fitting choice for Butterwick House, he provides a reminder that every single child has an amazing story to be told, it is just a matter of perspective.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the Dayroom you can find the teenagers and young adults wing. The bedrooms walls are left blank so posters can be put up and their own furniture moved in. Large double doors open-up on to the sensory garden. There is also a separate kitchen and hang-out room to socialise in.
The Stockton site is also equipped with a state-of-the-art Hydrotherapy Pool. It can be used by the residents and their families. Nicola said it is always great fun when the children and their siblings get to splash about in the pool!
Butterwick House is designed to bring families together. Upstairs there is a flat which allows parents and siblings to stay in the Hospice overnight. This can give families additional precious hours together when they are most needed. They also have balconies which overlook the dayroom and hydrotherapy pool.
Butterwick Hospice Care came in to is existence in 1984 when Mary Butterwick opened her first Hospice following the tragic loss of her husband, John. She wanted to create a home where families can spend their final moments surrounded by love. Since its humble beginnings Butterwick Hospice Care now provides palliative and end of life care across Stockton, Sedgefield and the Durham Dales. They also offer day care services, therapies and counselling for life limiting illnesses.
The Butterwick believes in adding life to days when adding days to life is no longer possible, because every moment counts.
From the onsite coffee shop to working chapel, every part of the Hospice adds quality of life to the residents.
Nicola told me that they recently held a wedding in the chapel, making sure a father could be there on his daughter’s special day. You could not express the importance of this moment in words, money or statistics. To be able to provide a space where a father, in the final moments of his own life, is able to hold his daughters hand as she steps into the next chapter of her own life is truly unique.
Butterwick Hospice Care is so important to Teesside, Mary has created a truly special place in her three Hospices.
Butterwick Hospice Care provides pre and post bereavement support for families of Butterwick Hospice Care.
Grief affects us all and can manifest in many ways. I was extremely moved to hear the story of Jack (8 years old) and Toby (9 years old). They both attended the Children’s Support Group following losses in their families. After Toby lost his dad Christian in 2012 he found it difficult to cope. The group helped him process complicated emotions like fear and anger. While he was attending the group, he met Jack, who was coping with the sudden loss of his grandma. Out of such terrible circumstances the boys forged a new friendship. Toby explained “When I get upset, I think about coming here and that makes me happy again, we’re besties forever!”.
The sessions are not just for children and are run by qualified Counsellors. A Butterwick Counsellor, Karen, explained that “being able to offer a safe and secure place where people can come to explore their strengths, feelings and behaviours without judgement or expectation is really important”.
In addition to end of life care, Butterwick House has the sunflower room. It is available to all families in the Tees Valley who have lost a child, not just residents of the Butterwick. It is a private space where families can be with their child up until the funeral. Nicola said that parents like to know their children are in a safe space, the walls are decorated with a sunflower motif and there is always an ambient light on. It gives families time to come to terms with their loss and process their emotions. A member of staff at the Butterwick produces memory stones for each child of the sunflower room.